“You must be happy, delirious that the Texas border is being overrun by your people,” declared the accusatory woman knowing my many-year long campaign for real immigration reform.
“No,” I responded, “this crisis is delaying if not destroying prospects for immigration reform anytime soon.”
That is so true.
First, President Obama entered the Presidency with control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He did not lift a finger on immigration reform after declaring he would fix immigration in his first year.
Mexicans and Canadian children that cross into the United States illegally can be sent back immediately by Border Patrol agents. Central Americans, however, must be given hearings where they can present a legal case for staying in the United States.
- Raoul Lowery Contreras
Secondly, President Obama issued a decree that offered people brought here as minor children illegally, freedom from deportation temporarily and the ability to legally work while their applications for this deferral program was being processed.
Without constitutionally-created and passed comprehensive immigration reform or even piecemeal reform, President Obama took it upon himself to basically grant a temporary stay of deportation to thousands of young people here already.
That was fine. Congress should have passed such laws years ago. No child should be punished for the “sins of the father.”
Unfortunately, enterprising Central American and Mexican politicians, business people, gang leaders and drug cartel gangsters grabbed onto President Obama’s generous order and combined it with a juvenile protection act passed almost unanimously by the U.S. Congress in 2008 that treated juveniles from Central America different than those from Mexico and Canada to start up the 'kids-to-USA business' that has overwhelmed us.
Mexican and Canadian children that cross into the United States illegally can be sent back immediately by Border Patrol agents. Central Americans, however, must be given hearings where they can present a legal case for staying in the United States.
We have over 50,000 “unaccompanied” juveniles here that we are required to care for or release while waiting for hearings. There are so many, the government is turning them loose and sending them by bus to relatives on the government dime. They are handed a paper instructing them to report to an immigration office for their hearings.
Another 40,000 to 50,000 “unaccompanied” children are expected in the next few months, further choking the legal process for these kids which already can last up to five years.
The sky is falling.
Despite the fact that the Administration was advertising for help in January to help with this problem, it appears it was caught flat-footed by the crush of kids. In 2009 and 2010 about 5,000 kids per year showed up at the border and surrendered to Border Patrol agents.
Those numbers doubled in 2010 and 2011 and hit 34,000 in 2013. Since October over 50,000 have come.
The border crush has exploded the heads of anti-immigrant people that permeate our society at every level. From millionaires like the recently deceased Richard Mellon Scaife, to radio talk show hosts and other so-called “conservatives” to rabid congresspeople like Iowa’s Steve King, they are everywhere. So are their armed militia followers and charming protesters who spit on pro-immigrant protestors.
Add union blue collar employed and unemployed workers, and even black leaders like Jesse Jackson — they are all upset about these Central American kids. We have a political problem. Jackson’s fellow Chicagoans are being slaughtered en masse and they have nowhere to go like the Central Americans do.
It looks like President Obama is indifferent to the entire problem; he makes weak attempts to blame Republicans and refused to go to the border when he was minutes away raising money. We have a huge failure of leadership and we lack confidence that he can somehow solve the problem.
His appeal for almost $4 billion with a tiny amount for border security is ridiculous. He should lay out a plan that will heighten border security by adding more people to agencies working the border. He should ask Congress for the ability to recruit part-time immigration “judges” from local and state courts in all Mexican border states, who could devote an hour or two a day to immigration cases. Lots of empty courtrooms in the afternoons can be used.
This may surprise everyone: “immigration” judges are not Senate-confirmed judges for life. They are lawyers appointed through a regular political process. They don’t have to be full time, either.
So, Mr. Obama needs more people on the border to slow down illegal border crossings, he needs to recruit real judges to work part-time as immigration judges. The kids will get their hearings and if the judges say they have to return to their home countries, we can put them on airplanes and send them home.
That will cut the ground out from the hustlers pushing the people train to Texas from the violent and impoverished countries that are the roots of the problem.
President Obama cannot solve the problem without deporting kids. Question: Does President Obama care enough to even consider mass deportations of “unaccompanied” children? Does Congress?
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.