President Obama may have described the waves of tens of thousands of migrant families flooding the southern border as a "humanitarian crisis," but it is a humanitarian crisis entirely of his own creation and one which he could end tomorrow if he wanted to. The Los Angeles Times reports:
President Obama and his aides have repeatedly sought to dispel the rumors driving thousands of children and teens from Central America to cross the U.S. border each month with the expectation they will be given a permiso and allowed to stay.
But under the Obama administration, those reports have proved increasingly true.
The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Similarly, about 600 minors were ordered deported each year from nonborder states a decade ago. Ninety-five were deported last year, records show, even as a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America — five times more than two years earlier — began pouring across the Southwest border.
This drop in deportations is driven entirely by policy decisions made by Obama. From 2010 through today, the Obama administration has released a series of memos directing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials not to enforce our nation's immigration laws.
Obama's June 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (which also gave certain illegal immigrants the ability to obtain a work permit, get a Social Security number, and apply for a driver’s license) is just the most public and promoted of these efforts.
In each of these cases, Obama has said his inherent enforcement powers as president, coupled with a lack of resources, allows him to pick and choose which immigration laws will actually be enforced.
Enter the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act which requires border officials to send child migrants to the Department of Health and Human Services for processing. These migrants are also allowed to seek an asylum hearing before an immigration judge which takes time. Till then, most of the migrants are simply released in the United States and never sent home.
But not all migrants are taken in for processing. Again, from The Los Angeles Times:
Most of the minors are being held in Border Patrol stations in Texas and Arizona, and in emergency facilities set up by the Department of Health and Human Services on military bases and other sites. About 11,000, however, were from Mexico and were swiftly bused back across the border, as the law allows.
So Obama does have the capability to bus migrants back across the border. His administration is currently doing exactly that for Mexican migrants who illegally cross the border. But Obama is choosing not to bus back migrants form countries other than Mexico.
Yes, current immigration law as written does require ICE to process OTM migrants. But current immigration law also requires ICE to deport illegal immigrants found inside the United States. If Obama can ignore current immigration law on deportations, he can also ignore the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. In other words, if Obama's DACA program and other lax immigration enforcement policies are legal, then it is also legal for him to turn away those migraines flooding the border today.
But Obama does not want to solve the current border crisis. He wants the crisis to get bigger so he can use it to force the Republican Congress to negotiate on immigration. That is why he is asking for a change to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Obama believes that if he can get House Republicans to change that law, then Democrats can tack on their much larger amnesty to the bill when it goes through the Senate.
Republicans can not play Obama's selective enforcement game. Obama unilaterally rewrote immigration law into this crisis, he can unilaterally rewrite himself out of it.