You hear the pundits on the left saying that the right criticizes Obama for ignoring laws, but when he enforces the 2008 act that requires that unaccompanied minors from Central America be given special treatment, the right howls.
No doubt that criticism makes sense to some people. But it ignores almost every salient fact about the situation.
The bill in question, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, dealt with a different set of circumstances and was never envisioned to apply to what’s happening now. As its name suggests, it was aimed at stopping human trafficking, and only a very small part of it dealt with unaccompanied minors from Central America (actually, from all countries except Mexico and Canada), and even that was in the context of those minors as presumed human trafficking victims. Back then, there were no hordes of unaccompanied minors coming here from Central America to attempt to gain residence on rumored promises of amnesty.
The second point is that Obama is very selective about his enforcement. He ignores the laws he doesn’t like, or changes them, whereas with those that suit his purpose he falls back on the idea that he simply must obey the law. It’s his intentionally selective enforcement that’s the problem. In particular, if Obama enforced the laws on border security, Wilberforce wouldn’t have ever become such a problem in the first place.
For Wilberforce, Charles Lane invokes the law of unintended consequences—legislative version. He’s correct. In retrospect we can see that the section of the law involving unaccompanied minors was poorly drafted, but hindsight is always 20/20:
So, here we are: The Wilberforce Act, logical and humane on paper, has been overthrown by an influx of Central American kids…
This isn’t anyone’s idea of sustainable immigration; at least it shouldn’t be. Some call the situation a humanitarian crisis. I prefer “national scandal.”…
Yet the key is to fix the Wilberforce Act: to permit prompt exclusion of unaccompanied Central American minors, as is already the case for Mexicans and (far less frequently) Canadians.
Sounds simple, right? Seems like everyone should get behind this, right? Wrong. That’s much too reasonable.
It will be very interesting to see whether the House manages to pass some sort of revision to Wilburforce, making the new arrivals subject to quicker deportation:
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the working group’s leader, will argue that child immigrants from Central America should be subject to the same rules as those from Mexico. A source close to Granger said the group will also advise that National Guard troops be sent to the border, a longstanding demand from Republicans.
I’m not even sure the GOP would support such a bill, although it seems eminently sensible to me. And even if it were to somehow be passed, I can’t imagine Harry Reid allowing it to come to a vote in the Senate. And then, if by some incredible happenstance it did get through the Senate, and such an act reached Obama’s desk for signing, he would be faced with quite a dilemma: would he veto a bill most of America desperately wants? Or would he sign it and turn his back on the left of his party, as well as his own plans for America’s future and an entrenched Democratic majority? I know which one I’d put my money on.