With children fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador; there is a humanitarian crises in our border states. Tea/Republicans are more interested in blaming President Obama for a policy that was, in fact, passed by the Bush Administration than in finding solutions. Then, what’s new about that?
Under the Bush Administration’s policy, the Border Patrol Agency (BPA) is required to take in unaccompanied children from countries that are not Mexico. The law required the BPA to have them screened and vaccinated before turning them over to the Department of Human Services’ Office of Refugee Recruitment.
While complaining about an immigration policy established by a Republican President, GOP lawmakers are responsible for the lack of action on much needed immigration reform. The GOP leadership couldn’t muster support among its warring factions for GOP initiated proposals. They blamed Bowe Bergandahl and the Boston Marathon bomber. They claimed that problems with healthcare.gov precluded Republicans from getting serious about immigration reform. Then they tried to blame Eric Cantor’s defeat on his support for immigration reform, overlooking the more realistic facts that Jason Easley outlined on the night Cantor went down to a Tea Party extremist.
Sarah Palin wins the most absurd word salad award for her demand that Obama fly these children “back to Mexico” or she will quit the GOP. In fact, however, her sentiments reflect those of the more extreme members of the Republican Party who are always more interested in finding excuses to do nothing to reform our broken immigration system.
That’s a point made by none other than Rupert Murdoch in a recent op-ed.
Some politicians and pundits will argue that this is not the time to bring immigration reform to the congressional floor—that it will frighten an already anxious workforce and encourage more extreme candidates, especially on the right. They may be right about the short-term politics, but they are dead wrong about the long-term interests of our country.
Granted, Murdoch’s enthusiasm for immigration reform is self-serving, but it doesn’t remove the fact that the main reason the Bush policy hasn’t been updated is the same reason we haven’t seen movement on job creation or any other policy area. It’s just more Republican temper tantrums because Americans rejected Romney/Ryan in 2012 and McCain/Palin in 2008 in favor of Barack Obama.
The reality is the influx of immigrants from Central America presents several issues. Communities are under resourced and therefore unable to provide shelter, food, clothing and healthcare. ICE facilities are not designed to care for children. This humanitarian crisis is overwhelming border security which means their primary responsibility of securing the borders has become a secondary priority. The fact is this influx means more delays in legally required proceedings unless there are more immigration judges to adjudicate cases.
The President and other adult lawmakers recognize that continued partisan bickering accomplishes nothing.
In direct contrast to Palin and other right wing partisans, Wendy Davis is showing Texas Governor Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, her republican opponent in the race to replace Perry, what leadership is and how it is done.
Davis wrote a letter to Perry, vowing to support him if he will declare a state of emergency, call an emergency session and some additional specific proposals to deal with the combination of issues arising from an influx of children seeking a safe haven.
Wendy Davis’ letter to Gov. Rick Perry
June 23, 2014
The Honorable Rick Perry
State of Texas
Dear Governor Perry:
The crisis along our border is an emergency and requires additional immediate attention.
As you know, families from across Central America – primarily from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – are surrendering to federal border patrol agents along the Texas Rio Grande Valley at unprecedented rates. In fact, since last October, an estimated 174,000 individuals and families, many of them children, have crossed the border and turned themselves over to federal immigration authorities.
The situation is untenable. Federal border agents and facilities are overwhelmed trying to address this human crisis instead of focusing on their first priority to secure our border from drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists. You took a solid step, which I support, to address that by increasing support to the Department of Public Safety to help along the border.
However, local counties, cities and charitable organizations are also spending already limited resources to meet the basic needs of these individuals and their families. Adequate food, shelter, clothing and healthcare are equally important.
I share the concern of our state colleagues and local leaders along the border about this growing crisis, and call on you to do the following:
1) Declare a state of emergency. As much as any natural disaster, this is a human one that requires all the focus and energy possible of our state government. A declaration of state emergency on your part, as governor, will provide communities with the essential resources, supplies, emergency services and facilities they need without further delay.
Just as we help communities in the aftermath of wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters, we can and should help our border communities during this crisis.
2) Call an immediate emergency special session of the Texas Legislature. In the absence of federal action, local communities need state assistance. The purpose of this session will be to hear from first responders – city and county officials, police, fire, EMS, public health leaders and the faith based organizations – on the challenges they face; assess those needs; and pass emergency appropriations to provide local agencies with the resources they need in order to do their job in protecting local communities and provide appropriate care for these individuals and families.
3) Request additional immigration judges immediately. I agree that this is a federal issue. While I believe it is imperative for the state to act in the short-term, we need the federal government to do its job – including sending more immigration judges to the border. To that end, we should call on the Obama Administration to provide a sufficient number of judges so that those processed by the border patrol will receive an immediate hearing on their immigration requests and, where appropriate, be repatriated to their native country. Given the scale and scope of this emergency, I believe that this is the best approach, rather than releasing these individuals and their families at the local bus station with a hearing set several months in the future. We should vigorously advocate this approach with federal officials.
4) Send the state/local bill to the federal government. We should also sponsor and vigorously support a joint resolution calling for the federal government to pay for any and all emergency funds spent by state and local authorities to address this emergency.
Allow me to reiterate that I agree with border leaders that this is a disaster that requires immediate state action. But, I call on you to not sit by and wait for the federal government to act in order to address the humanitarian needs and the costs of addressing them that local communities are currently bearing. If the federal government does not lead, then we must.
You have my full support to act in the manner described above.
Wendy R. Davis
Few rational people would find reason to oppose any of these proposals. Of course, no one can accuse this Congress or Rick Perry of being rational.
Image: The Monitor