The surge of desperate young migrants across the southwest border has the Obama administration scrambling to respond. It was clearly ill-prepared for a problem that grew steadily for years before exploding this year, with more than 47,000 unaccompanied children caught at the border since October.Brian Resnick at National Journal analyzes the disturbing reality:
It is past time for excuses, and too soon for the post-mortem. The administration needs to mount a sustained surge of its own, of humanitarian care, shelter and legal assistance for children who have faced horrific traumas in fleeing violence in their home countries, mainly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. As Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. meets this week with officials in those countries, they should all commit to making it safe for would-be migrants to stay home, by reducing the murders and gang crimes that feed the exodus. Congress should meanwhile approve the administration’s $1.4 billion request to handle the emergency on this side of the border, though more will surely be needed to assure health, safety and due process for these young migrants.
Virtual cities of children are picking up and fleeing El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—some of the most dangerous places in this hemisphere. In Washington, the story has stoked the longstanding debate over border policy. But U.S. immigration policy is just a small part of this story. Yes, the U.S. immigration system is now bottlenecked with the influx, prompting emergency response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But changing U.S. border policy won't stem the root of the exodus.Much more on the this and the day's other top stories below the fold.
"The normal migration patterns in this region have changed," Leslie Velez, senior protection officer at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, explains. These people aren't coming here for economic opportunity. They are fleeing for their lives.
Debunking the nutty talk that always surrounds immigration reform is a never-ending but necessary task. Dawdling and ignorantly blathering about immigration is exactly the non-response that keeps the United States unready for situations such as this humanitarian crisis. For that is, in large part, what Border Patrol is dealing with at the moment.The Boston Globe:
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, outside of countries at war. Gang violence in El Salvador is escalating too. Some of these kids are running for their lives. Others are trying to reunite with parents who left them years ago to find work in the United States. That’s where increased security at the border and ICE crackdowns have actually worsened some aspects of illegal immigration. People illegally here can’t cross back and forth as they once did to visit family.
Several hundred children and mothers with infants are turning themselves in daily to U.S. Border Patrol. It’s rightly being called a crisis. And, as with other aspects of immigration reform, situations like this won’t be resolved by the simple-minded bleating of a populist candidate whose 15 minutes of fame are ticking.
For now, the situation has been dealt with using the same Band-Aid approach: President Obama asked FEMA to provide more shelter and relief for the children in custody. But what’s needed is for Republican leaders to stop using procedural mechanisms to keep the Senate-passed immigration reform bill from reaching the House floor, where it could pass with both Democratic and Republican votes. The bill wouldn’t fully satisfy the yearning in many families south of the border for a better life for their children, but it would give them a clear legal path toward achieving that goal, and might serve to keep families together.Switching topics to Iraq, Andrew Rosenthal bats down the argument that the US could have left a massive number of troops in Iraq, like some conservatives claim:
In 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates (a Republican who served under both Bushes) said Iraq would face security problems after a U.S. withdrawal. But, he pointed out, “it’s a sovereign country. And we will abide by the agreement, unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.”Jay Bookman:
The Iraqis did not ask, and U.S forces withdrew. Mr. Obama did his best to clean up a huge mess left by his predecessor (and Iraq was far from the only one). To heap all the blame on him now is partisan hackery.
As always, I'm struck at the magical powers that Kristol, Kagan and their colleagues attribute to military power. It would allow us to "demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias." It will allow us to "insist on the withdrawal of (Iranian) forces." It would reassure Iraq's Sunni minority, who would lay down their arms. And of course, we would be able to expel foreign fighters from Iraq, quite a trick given Iraq's unguarded 360-mile border with Syria and its 900-mile border with Iran.H.D.S. Greenway:
None of that sounds even remotely plausible.
Critics of President Obama are saying that American troops should have stayed in Iraq longer, the same as revisionists say that the Republic of South Vietnam would not have fallen if we had stayed the course in Vietnam. But one has also to ask, how long were Americans going to have to stay on when public support at home had crumbled and the fighting was already a decade long? And can foreigners ever accomplish much when the host government no longer wants them? Maliki threw in his lot with Iran, not the United States, and Iran wanted the Americans out.Eugene Robinson:
President Obama’s instincts about Iraq and Syria have been sound from the beginning: Greater U.S. engagement probably cannot make things better but certainly can make them worse, both for the people of the region and for our national interests. [...]On the issue of gun violence, David Horsey writes about our desensitization to such tragedies:
Obama’s only mistake was to buy, for a time, the notion that Bush’s troop surge had miraculously healed ancient divisions and made the dream of a pluralist democracy still possible. But Maliki sent a consistent message to Sunnis and Kurds: Shiites are in charge. Deal with it. [...]
Would any of this have been avoided if Obama had left a substantial troop presence in Iraq? The question is moot, since Maliki refused to reach an agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay.
Given that some sort of horrific, headline-grabbing school shooting now occurs in the United States at a rate of once a week, it's hard to argue against the idea that gun violence is as much a national pastime as baseball. Unlike baseball, however, the season never ends. [...] The United States is the only advanced, industrialized country with this problem. In less-developed regions there are countries where gun violence is rampant -- places like Somalia and the Central African Republic, but those are anarchic places where no effective governmental authority exists. In America, we have a government that some people believe is too big and overbearing, yet, when it comes to guns, we might as well have no government at all.The New York Times on "legislating ignorance about guns":
In 1996, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, Congress effectively barred federally financed research on gun violence. After Newtown, President Obama called for an end to the ban and asked Congress to provide $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence. He also included the $10 million request in his recent budget proposal to Congress. In addition, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation authorizing appropriators to provide funding.
Recently, however, Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican of Georgia and leader of the House subcommittee that sets the C.D.C. budget, told ProPublica that “the president’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives through the C.D.C. will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill.” Mr. Kingston does not have the last word; the full appropriations committee has yet to finalize the C.D.C. budget. But his stance does not bode well for gun-violence research or for science-based policy making more broadly.
[...] The price of ignorance on those and other questions is measured in tens of thousands of preventable deaths and avoidable injuries from guns, year in and year out. Compared with that, $10 million for the C.D.C. to study the problem and propose solutions would be a small price to pay.