(CNN)On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked how the Trump administration was going to solve the ongoing crisis created by President Donald Trump's decision to enforce a "zero-tolerance" policy -- every person who crosses illegally gets referred for prosecution -- at the border.
The White House's plan to solve the family separation crisis: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Her response? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Well, there was more. Here it is:
"Again, this is a temporary solution. This isn't going to last. Congress still has to step up. They still have to do their job. This will only last a short amount of time, because we're going to run out of space, we're going to run out of resources in order to keep people together. And we're asking Congress to provide those resources and do their job ... We're not changing the policy. We're simply out of resources. And at some point, Congress has to do what they were elected to do, and that is secure our border, that is stop the crime coming into our country. The country has made extremely clear that they don't want open borders. And Democrats need to understand that, and they need to work with Republicans and find some solutions."
First, some background.
As part of the executive order that Trump signed last week -- after insisting an executive order couldn't be done -- the administration is seeking to allow children to stay in detention centers beyond the 20 days that has been accepted policy to date. That's dicey legal ground -- not to mention the fact that it's not at all clear where the money (and space) to house families together for indefinite periods of time would come from.
And/but, US Customs and Border Protection has confirmed that they are not upholding Trump's zero-tolerance policy at the moment. Sanders, when pressed on that contradiction, said "we're not changing the policy ... we're simply out of resources," meaning that, just five days after Trump signed the EO that he said would fix the problem -- at least temporarily -- his solution is broken.
All of which means we currently have: Vast uncertainty about not only what the US government can and should do with families trying to enter the country but also a resource shortage for the Band-aid solution proposed by the President last week. And don't forget that there are still more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents before Trump's executive order went into place. It's not at all clear what the administration is doing to reunite them with their families.
In the face of all of that uncertainty, Sanders effectively threw her hands up on Monday -- insisting that the administration had done all it could and that now was the time for Congress to act.
The problem with that not-my-problem logic is that a) we know that Congress is incapable of fixing the immigration system in any sort of comprehensive manner and b) Trump himself has tweeted out that there's no point in Congress even trying to fix things.
"Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November," Trump tweeted on Friday. "Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"
If you are a conservative Republican (or a moderate one) looking for a reason not to be cajoled by GOP congressional leaders into voting for some sort of bill that offers a path to citizenship for DACA recipients while also providing Trump's desired $25 billion in funding for the southern border wall, that Trump tweet is all you needed.
Which means that the so-called "compromise" bill that Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing to a vote last this week will fail. There's simply no path to 218 votes for Republicans -- and probably not anything close to that number.
What comes next depends on what Trump and the administration choose to do. Trump could rescind the zero-tolerance policy, which would return to the "catch and release" policy that he bashed the Obama administration for. Or the President could push some sort of smaller-bore legislative fix -- making a concerted push for a solution to the family separation crisis that doesn't touch DACA or border wall funding.
What to do about the 2,000-plus kids who are still separated from their parents? That seems more likely to be fixed by the White House than via Congress -- since it's sort of hard to legislate the uniting of families.
The problem in all of this is that Trump's administration -- as evidenced by Sanders' can't-someone-else-do-it? approach on Monday -- is showing very little inclination to find solutions. Trump seems entirely comfortable with just blaming Democrats for obstructing and letting the political chips fall where they may.
That's a political solution to a humanitarian crisis -- and an inadequate one at that.