Undocumented immigrant families turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents on July 21, 2014 in McAllen, Texas.
John Moore/Getty

How not to debate the border crisis

Updated
Congress’ newly-chosen House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), appeared on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, and Chris Wallace asked the far-right lawmaker about a possible solution to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. The Louisiana Republican said, “Well, Chris, we’re going to keep working until we get this problem solved.”
 
Asked if that meant possibly delaying the month-long August recess, which begins this Friday, Scalise refused to answer, instead pushing a loosely strung-together list of talking points, many of which didn’t make a lot of sense.
“We want to actually fix the law, and wouldn’t it be good to allow the governors of those border states to be able to call the National Guard and to help security the border? This all has to start with securing the border, not writing the president a blank check, to keep doing what he’s doing that’s not working…. And ultimately, this is the president’s responsibility. He could fix the problem today. He’s chosen not to, but the House is going to lead. […]
 
“It’s ironic, we’re here in Congress right now, and the president doesn’t want to work with us while we’re in town. He wants to wait until we’re gone. The president has a lot of time on his schedule to secure fundraisers. He has no time to secure the border…. He’s flying around doing fundraisers. He doesn’t have time to come and sit down and work with Congress. We’re going to get this problem solved. […]
 
“The House is going to take leadership…. And if the president wants to sit back and just continue to point fingers at other people, he’s the president of the United States. He could solve this problem today. He’s been AWOL on it. He doesn’t want to solve this problem. But we do…. We’re going to actually do our job.”
If Chronic Word Salad is a disease, it would appear the new House Majority Whip is in desperate need of treatment.
 
I’m going to hope Scalise didn’t actually mean most of what he said on the air, because if he was sincere, it suggests the new House GOP leader isn’t even keeping up on current events. The National Guard talking point is foolish, as is the “blank check” rhetoric. The congressman can argue that lawmakers need to change the 2008 human-trafficking law to fix the crisis, and he can argue that Obama can fix the crisis without a change to 2008 human-trafficking law, but he shouldn’t make both arguments at the same time.
 
The White House isn’t waiting for the recess to work with Congress; the White House presented a proposed solution to the crisis weeks ago and Scalise’s House Republicans have done nothing but complain since. Obama “has no time to secure the border”? Actually, in modern times, the border has never been more secure – and the current crisis has nothing to do with border security.
 
“He’s been AWOL”? Obama’s the only one in Washington who’s actually done any work addressing the problem, suggesting Scalise may not understand what “AWOL” means.
 
After the interview, even Fox’s panel found it tough to defend Republican antics on the issue.
“The Republicans don’t really seem to want to work on immigration until it comes to deporting children,” [USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers] said. “This is the only thing they really have been willing to do at this point, is just to say, ‘We’ll pass the bill to deport children, but we won’t talk about any sort of broader comprehensive immigration issue.’”
 
[George Will] agreed. “I think Kirsten is largely right. My view is that we have to say to the children, ‘Welcome to America. You’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans.’ We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”
As for the president who allegedly “doesn’t want to solve this problem,” Obama has begun weighing a new executive action.
Hoping to stem the recent surge of migrants at the Southwest border, the Obama administration is considering whether to allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making the dangerous trek through Mexico, according to a draft of the proposal.
 
If approved, the plan would direct the government to screen thousands of children and youths in Honduras to see if they can enter the United States as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds. It would be the first American refugee effort in a nation reachable by land to the United States, the White House said, putting the violence in Honduras on the level of humanitarian emergencies in Haiti and Vietnam, where such programs have been conducted in the past amid war and major crises.
Alec MacGillis had a good piece arguing that this proposed approach helps prove that the president “understands the border crisis better” than many of his Republican critics.
 

Immigration Policy and Steve Scalise

How not to debate the border crisis

Updated