For years now those of us on the left hand side of the political spectrum have endured the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative. Every spat, from the serious to the silly, was described by the platitudinous pundits as yet another example of the Democratic Party being unable to organize all the critters inside the tent. “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line,” we’ve been told. However, at least we didn’t tear up the tent.
Nothing illustrates the disarray and mixed messaging quite so thoroughly, if inelegantly, as the current news in regard to the unaccompanied children showing up from Central America who may be seeking asylum or refugee status.
Where is the Pro-Family Party? Good luck locating it at the moment. On one hand, we have Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) telling us that ‘Children are the Future,’ and the little fetus in the womb is entitled to life, liberty, and property [C&L] but, if the zygote grows and gets born then evidently all bets are off. On the other, a sheriff in Arizona was only too happy to tip off angry protestors to the possibility that some of the “actuated zygotes” were on their way to a boys’ ranch. [C&L] There’s nothing that says “Pro-Family” quite like facilitating the activities of screaming xenophobes who want to block buses loaded with children, and shake misspelled signs in their faces.
Why do children come here? Maria’s story is compelling and chilling. It’s very easy to sling generalities such as “illegal immigration is illegal,” but takes more intellectual effort to comprehend why an environment in which a youngster is forced to sell contraband drugs, is raped for the amusement of drug gang members, who has been threatened with death, [C&L] or has seen a sibling shot and killed, [NYT] is analogous to a war zone in which the police can’t be expected to help. [DoS] Exactly how is it “Pro-Family” or “Pro-Life” to demand that (1) children be separated from their parents or (2) children be immediately shipped back into the violent chaos without a hearing?
Republicans have pulled every excuse from every page of the book to absolve themselves from the responsibility for delaying comprehensive immigration reform. Remember when they wanted to “secure the border first?” That would be the border with Mexico, Canada not so much. Then the statistics came in:
“U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions totaled 420,789 nationwide in FY 2013, 16 percent above FY2012, but 42 percent below FY 2008 levels. While Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans in FY 2013 remained largely unchanged from FY2012, apprehensions of individuals from countries other than Mexico, predominately individuals from Central America, increased by 55 percent. ” [DHS]
That’s APPREHENSIONS, stopping migration at the border. While immigration from Mexico declined, migration from Central America increased.
Then there’s the matter of Border Patrol staffing, which at the present numbers some 21,000 BP agents, who are engaged in “line watch and sign cutting,” “traffic checkpoints,” “marine patrols,” horse and bicycle patrols,” and anti-drug trafficking operations. [DHS] This is enhanced by funding from Operation Stonegarden
“In FY 2013, $55 million in Operation Stonegarden funding was provided to states to enhance border security cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies. States that received funding in FY 2013 included Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas on the southern border; Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington on the northern border, and Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico on the coastal borders.” [DHS]
Increasing apprehensions, increasing the number of Border Patrol Agents, declining numbers from Mexico. Increased assistance to state, local, and tribal governments — and “IT” still is insufficient for the xenophobic bigot brigade.
We could build a fence? A bigger fence. A taller fence? A stronger fence. Just about a week ago one Pastor told us that Jesus of Nazareth would have wanted a fence.
“What we are doing by having these unsecured borders is we are enticing children and mothers to make this dangerous journey,” the Christian leader added. “Yes, we want to show compassion to the children who are here, but the most compassionate thing we can do is secure the borders.”
Because in the analogical world of this mega-church reverend not having a Really Really Strong Fence is like not having one at all around your backyard swimming pool, in other words the Pastor is telling us that the United States is reduced to being one giant Attractive Nuisance?
It seems not to have occurred to some people that for every 40 foot fence there can be manufactured a 41 foot ladder. So, what exactly IS an “unsecured border?”
The Administration increased border patrol operations — that wasn’t enough to secure the border, the Administration increased surveillance operations to secure the border, and that wasn’t enough. Perhaps the Photo-Op from the right wing, compliments of a tweet from Fox News personality Sean Hannity is the image of a secure border?
Of course the image hints at a pertinent question, the one raised by the Kansas City Star: “Is this really the image we want to portray to the rest of the country — and the rest of the world — about how we handle humanitarian crises in other parts of the world?”
No, the Pro-Life, Pro-Family Party will not be satisfied until the southern border is militarized — the bigger the guns the better, and mobilized — the more agents, Guardsmen, and members of the Armed Forces the better; except, that is, for the urging of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to get the ball rolling. Until then — more excuses.
The “security” topic is getting to be dangerous territory for the absolutists and exclusionists so it’s time to change the excuse. The latest rationalization is “we can’t trust the President.”
Speaker John Boehner trotted out this line back in February to excuse Republican intransigence on Comprehensive Immigration Policy reform. [TP] So, illegal entry is at a 40 year low, and we have more Border Patrol Agents than ever, but now…. There comes a point where the old saw become a truism: Those people who are good at making excuses usually aren’t good at anything else.
The Nevada Representatives from the GOP side are exemplars of the disarray in the Republican Party when it comes to immigration reform.
From Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2): “Amodei, R-Carson City., said he still believes that the House should take up reform that includes a way for many undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship by learning English and American civics, paying back taxes and fines and waiting more than a decade.” [RGJ] That said, you will not find Rep. Amodei’s name on the discharge petition for H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill. In short, the Congressman appears to be all for immigration policy reform — except when he isn’t.
Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) pitched his version of an immigration reform bill back in December 2013. Back home with the zealots he faced the crowd, one member of which said we don’t have a broken immigration system, “We just need to enforce the law.” [WaPo] Heck’s bill went nowhere, and we don’t see his signature on the discharge petition for H.R. 15 either. Representatives Titus (D-NV1) and Horsford (D-NV4) have both signed the discharge petition for H.R. 15.
Nothing says disarray like politicians declaring their support for immigration policy reform, in line with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, [TP] [WaPo] while steadfastly refusing to bring the bill to do so to the floor of the House; and, offering one excuse after another to avoid the prospect of a real live vote on the legislation. It’s ironic that the two Democratic Party Representatives in Congress from Nevada are the two supporting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce call for immigration policy reform, while the two Republicans are still in stall mode.
Meanwhile, back in the not-so-family-friendly environment in Honduras, 500 who attempted to reach the U.S. came back as deportees, the reaction from Honduras:
“This is the first time in Honduras we serve such deportation” told the media the first lady, Ana García Hernández; who was present during the arrival of the deportados. For his part, the Executive Director of Private Institutions Coordinator for Girls, Boys, Teens, Youth and Their Rights (COIPRODEN) Wilmer Velasquez explained that the newcomers “show feelings among including impotence, frustration and despair and who traveled to fulfill a dream and returned with nothing.” [Lainfo.Es]
What is Pro-Family? Pro-Life? Or, even Pro-American, about leaving people feeling impotent, frustrated, and full of despair?