In this June 25, 2014 photo, a group of immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

‘A tactical decision to let a problem fester for political reasons’

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) has a well-earned reputation for making truly bizarre comments.  Yesterday, however, he broke new ground.
A Republican South Carolina congressman thinks the crisis of undocumented immigrants surging across the border is an invasion similar to the allied invasion of Nazi Europe on D-Day. In a Facebook post, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina says the surge at border is similar because “invasion takes many forms.”
Too often, when far-right voices use World War II as a point of historical comparison, they’re comparing liberals to Nazis, so I suppose this is a slight improvement, though it’s cold comfort.
Nevertheless, Duncan went on to say the child-migrant crisis at the border needs a federal response – a point on which there’s broad agreement. It’s unclear, however, what Duncan and his fellow congressional Republicans intend to do about it.
Republicans are sharply divided over how to handle President Obama’s $3.7 billion border request. Conservatives on Wednesday balked at the administration’s price tag for providing relief to authorities overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of children illegally crossing the border.
“I think it’s a charade,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a Tea Party favorite who suggested the administration can tackle the crisis without new funding from Congress. Yet with the crisis escalating and Obama passing the ball into Congress’s court by asking for legislation, there’s an emerging concern that Republicans could suffer a political backlash if they fail to act.
USA Today’s editorial board summarized the problem nicely: “Let’s call the Republican response what it is: a tactical decision to let a problem fester for political reasons.”
To his credit, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned his party that failure to act will only make matters worse. “If we do that, then we’re going to get blamed for perpetuating the problem,” Graham told reporters yesterday.
What’s striking about the argument is that there aren’t two competing solutions. President Obama has asked for emergency resources to build detention centers, add immigration judges, and beef up border security, all while expediting deportations that will hopefully discourage an additional influx. Republicans have responded with … very little. Indeed, at this point, despite the volume of conservative complaints, there is no GOP plan to address the problem.
Republicans have asked for a symbolic photo-op they acknowledge would have no practical impact, and they’ve suggested a National Guard deployment. Obama has responded he’s willing to go along with the Guard idea as a short-term fix, but for a more meaningful solution, congressional Republicans will still need to do more than complain.
But it’s not clear they want to. This is a post-policy party, focused almost entirely on saying no to the White House – not governing, and certainly not coming up with solutions of their own.