As is his wont, President Barack Obama is treating the border crisis — more than 50,000 unaccompanied children crossing illegally — as a public relations problem. Where to photo op and where not. He still hasn’t enunciated a policy. He may not even have one.
Will these immigrants be allowed to stay? Seven times was Obama’s homeland security secretary asked this on “Meet the Press.” Seven times he danced around the question.
Presidential press secretary Josh Earnest was ostensibly more forthcoming: “It’s unlikely that most of those kids will qualify for humanitarian relief. … They will be sent back.” This was characterized in the media as a harder line. Not at all. Yes, those kids who go through the process will likely have no grounds to stay. But most will never go through the process.
These kids are being flown or bused to family members around the country and told to then show up for deportation hearings. Why show up? Why not just stay where they’ll get superior schooling, superior health care, superior everything? As a result, only 3 percent are being repatriated, to cite an internal Border Patrol memo.
Repatriate them? How stone-hearted, you say. After what they’ve been through? To those dismal conditions back home?
By that standard, with a sea of endemic suffering on every continent, we should have no immigration laws. Deny entry to no needy person.
But we do. We must. We choose. And immediate deportation is exactly what happens to illegal immigrants, children or otherwise, from Mexico and Canada. By what moral logic should there be a Central American exception?
There is no logic. Just a quirk of the law — a 2008 law intended to deter sex trafficking. It mandates that Central American kids receive temporary relocation, extensive assistance and elaborate immigration/deportation proceedings, which many simply evade.
This leniency was designed for a small number of sex-trafficked youth. It was never intended for today’s mass migration aimed at establishing a family foothold in America.