The situation at the Southern border is by all accounts a humanitarian crisis that is being exacerbated by the current administration’s own immigration policies. After listening to President Obama's press conference today, however, one was left with the distinct impression that House Republicans were largely responsible.
As a matter of fact, the president insinuated that Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform last year was one of the reasons why the border is teeming with -- and being overrun by -- unsupervised children. To add insult to injury, he also had exceedingly harsh words for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
“There are enough Democrats and Republicans in the House to pass immigration reform today,” he said. “But for more than a year Republicans in the House have refused to allow an up or down vote on that Senate bill -- or any bill -- to fix our broken immigration system.”
“They’ve proven again and again their refusal to stand up to the Tea Party for what’s best for the country,” he added.
He did, however, acknowledge that some congressional Republicans have voiced support for the (flawed) immigration reform bill that passed the upper chamber last summer -- and he thanked them for it. But because House Speaker John Boehner will not introduce any more bills addressing these issues, he’s taking matters into his own hands.
“I don’t prefer taking administrative action, I’d rather see permanent fixes,” he said. “I would love nothing more than bipartisan legislation to pass the House and Senate so it can land on my desk and I can sign it into law.”
But he also conceded that’s not going to happen -- at least anytime soon. And so he essentially argued that it's now up to him to act unilaterally.
"I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing," he said. "And in this situation, the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future."
What's more, he announced, he's already directed his Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to allocate resources "from the interior" to the border to help resolve the crisis. But that wasn't all.
He also had a message for congressional Republicans in regards to how they can prevent him from issuing more executive actions in the future.
“The best solution is passing bills,” he said. “Don’t just say no.”
UPDATE: U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) blasted out the following press release Monday afternoon:
"Since October, more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the United States from Mexico. These children are risking a dangerous and sometimes fatal journey from Central America and are being exploited by the drug cartels along the way. There needs to be real solutions, including legislation, to ease this humanitarian crisis. Of note, I have introduced a bill which increases penalties for the smuggling of children. In order to stop the exploitation of these children and stem the flow, the Administration must also send a strong message of deterrence by mandatory detention and removal of those who come into the country illegally.
“While I am thankful President Obama is finally considering necessary action, this has been a disaster in the making for months and no action was taken to prevent it from becoming an emergency. I look forward to reviewing the details of their request for legislative fixes and additional funding.”