Ruben Navarrette: Blame game over immigrant kids streaming in from Central America is useless
He says Issa blames Obama for influx, but he's got it wrong; Bush law drives policy on kids
He says Obama approach cold, unconstitutional. Kids need legal help, may face peril if deported
Navarrette: Here are 5 things Obama should do, starting with treating the children humanely
Editor’s Note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
It’s time to get beyond the question of who’s to blame for the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, where tens of thousands of children – three-fourths of them from Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador – are streaming into the United States and overwhelming our border enforcement apparatus.
We have to focus on workable solutions and skip half-baked ideas that make the problem worse.
Unfortunately, neither President Obama nor congressional Republicans are bringing their A-game.
You know who did bring theirs? The human smuggling cartels.
The White House recently acknowledged that “criminal syndicates” planted fake media reports on foreign television networks telling desperate would-be migrants that Congress had passed an amnesty and urging people to go north immediately for their “permisos” (permits) to live legally in the United States. Helping what is now nearly 100,000 young people cross the U.S.-Mexico border, at $8,000 per head, the bad guys earned about $800 million. It was a brilliant plan, and an evil one.
How are our leaders responding? The results are not impressive.
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Republicans insist that Obama is to blame for the surge because of an accommodation he offered young undocumented immigrants in 2012.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, is demanding that Obama end the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which lets young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children avoid deportation and apply for a work permit, and which Issa claims – with no evidence to back it up – is responsible for the flood of children across the border.
Never mind that none of the children now crossing into the country is eligible for DACA, because anyone who enters the country after June 15, 2007, does not qualify for the program. Never mind that, if DACA were to blame for the influx, it would have happened two years ago.
Never mind that the real reason so many of these kids have been turned over to family members in the United States while awaiting a court date isn’t DACA. It’s because of a longstanding but unspoken policy by the Border Patrol to treat unaccompanied minors differently from adults – and a 2008 law signed by President George W. Bush that prohibits Border Patrol agents from sending them back across the border. It instead requires that they be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services until they can be placed in the custody of a relative.
Meanwhile, Obama is being just as thickheaded – and hardhearted. He will soon ask Congress to provide more than $2 billion in new funding to bolster enforcement on the border.