If there really is a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, look no further than the White House and Congress for allowing it to reach this point. I’m still not convinced what is happening down south is any worse than what has been happening there for decades. The nation may soon find out.
Late last year we predicted that comprehensive immigration reform would never pass this Congress. I said as much during a CNNe interview, I think alongside a Democratic operative who became somewhat apoplectic because I labeled reform efforts as a political trap for the GOP. It was not a magical prediction. Nor did I have insider knowledge; anyone who says he or she did is a liar or does not know how the Congress, and this town, works.
Rather, the reason so-called proponents of comprehensive overhaul failed is that the were greedy. They wanted it all, including amnesty at all cost. Compromise was not on the table. And anyone who has been in this town more than four election cycles knows very well that the following formula almost always leads to political problems:
[issue] + [comprehensive reform] = gridlock
The Left needed a political trojan to use against the conservative movement and the Republicans fell for the bait. They wasted precious political capital, swapped internal party intelligence, and gave the Democrats an election-year talking point.
By keeping prospects for reform on life support as long as they did, including uncertainty about the amnesty issue, the Republican Party never developed its own voice on this issue. They engaged in the very thing that Democrats do so well, Hispandering. As a result, if there is a crisis at the border, both Congress and the President equally share the blame for fueling it.
The Democrats will continue to follow Winston Churchill’s counsel to never let a good crisis go to waste. Indeed, as soon as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week announced the creation of a GOP task force to get a closer look at the national security and humanitarian issues, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) comes back with this gem, reported in POLITICO:
The California Democrat will also meet [at the border] with a group of children held at the South Texas Detention Facility.
She’ll be joined at the border by Latin American political leaders as well who, no surprise, are taking advantage of the situation to score political points in the region. Why is this issue so important to Central American governments? It boils down to money. The GDP of most of these countries would be severely damaged if remittances from nationals in the United States stopped flowing south. If you really want to understand why there is an illegal immigration problem, focus on the endemic poverty and mostly corrupt governments south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
For the Democrats, it’s all about the show, registering future Democrats, and destroying the Republican brand. They could care less about border security or the children for that matter. Democrats are even going as far as urging the President to break the law and use a ‘phone and pen‘ approach to respond (they should read yesterday’s SCOTUS decision on executive power, NLRB v. Canning, reminding people in this town that everything has its limits).
The President, Congressional Democrats, and a lack of a clear and contrasting message from the GOP exacerbated the current border mess. Political leaders in Latin America, along with the media in the region, also share some of the blame. But what is the GOP going to do about it now?
The Republican Party needs remind voters, and future voters, that the current leadership of the Democratic Party could care less about resolving this issue. The Left has been dangling immigration reform in front of special interests groups for decades because it can. Once they accomplish “reform,” Party leaders no longer have leverage over these groups. That is why the Left keeps using [issue] + [comprehensive reform] = gridlock and resist GOP efforts to engage in incremental reform.
The GOP needs to offer a bill and pass it in the House, without amnesty, that focuses on border security and updating key business-focused visas programs. This bill should have a strong foreign policy component as well that holds nations accountable, especially those in the Western Hemisphere, for failing to secure their borders. There are many ways to do this, including using existing foreign aid, military sales and training, and related programs as a carrot and stick to exact cooperation from our partners in the region.
Until Congress and the White House sort this out, the National Guard and/or the U.S. military needs to be assigned to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. If there truly is a crisis at the border, then the nation needs people who know what they are doing responding and ensure that it does not get out of control.