Everyone knows the old sayings about broken clocks and blind squirrels, but I'll confess to being genuinely surprised by this one. The editors of the New York Times, one of the most reliably liberal mainstream publications in America, are no longer able to ignore or abide the ongoing chaos at the Southern border. In a new house editorial, they acknowledge reality and urge Congressional Democrats to get serious about the problem -- including a call to fulfill the Trump administration's latest budget request on this front:
New York Times Editorial Board: “President Trump is right: There is a crisis at the southern border.” pic.twitter.com/YTPAUl2fTQ— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) May 6, 2019
The piece includes some throat clearing and shots at the president, but its overall message is at least somewhat constructive. And it's a far cry from Democrats' bogus "manufactured crisis" rhetoric of recent months:
President Trump is right: There is a crisis at the southern border. Just not the one he rants about...But as record numbers of Central American families flee violence and poverty in their homelands, they are overwhelming United States border systems, fueling a humanitarian crisis of overcrowding, disease and chaos. The Border Patrol is now averaging 1,200 daily arrests, with many migrants arriving exhausted and sick...On Wednesday, the White House sent Congress a request for $4.5 billion in emergency funding to help manage the surge. In a letter to lawmakers, the acting director of the White House’s budget office, Russell Vought, sought to convey the scope of the challenge. “In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 76,000 illegal border crossers and inadmissible aliens, and in March that number exceeded 100,000 — the highest monthly level in more than a decade,” Mr. Vought wrote. He described what he said were “alarming numbers” of women and children jammed into Border Patrol stations never intended as long-term shelters.
Funding for vital services is not expected to last through the fiscal year, Mr. Vought said. Most urgently, the program that deals with unaccompanied minors is expected to run dry next month, requiring resources to be diverted from other programs and leading to a further deterioration in conditions...Nearly three-quarters of the funds, $3.3 billion, would be earmarked for humanitarian needs, with much of it flowing to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied minors. None of the money would go toward Mr. Trump’s border wall. Several hundred million dollars would, however, go toward shoring up border security operations, including increasing the number of detention beds overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. This, for Democrats, is a nonstarter...The Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey of New York, said that the administration was seeking billions of dollars to “double down on cruel and ill-conceived policies” and bail out ICE for locking up more migrant families than it could humanely accommodate. But until better policies are in place, Democrats need to find a way to provide money for adequate shelter.
Consider how extraordinary it is that the Times feels compelled to describe any effort to enhance border security -- even excluding 'the wall' -- or to provide additional detention beds as 'nonstarters' for Democrats. Both of these priorities are urgently needed. The editorial rightly tells Democrats that "until better policies are in place," they need to "find a way to provide money for adequate shelter." Unfortunately, a significant portion of the Democratic Party is overtly or effectively in favor of "catch and release" policies that inexorably increase the number of illegal immigrants living inside the United States. A number of them have even proposed decreasing border security and enforcement mechanisms, even as this undeniable crisis is playing out. Meanwhile, we see verifiable evidence of traffickers creating false families to exploit our broken status quo, which creates an incentive to illegally enter US territory with children in tow:
ICE is Cracking Down on 'Fake Families' Using Children as 'Pawns' at Border. I can’t believe some people say the border is not an emergency issue.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 1, 2019
Texas is about to spend almost a billion dollars in state money to do the federal government’s job. #txlege https://t.co/tJCZevSSlo
Does our immigration system incentivize child trafficking?@DanCrenshawTX shares a chilling story to raise awareness to a crisis few understand.— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) May 1, 2019
"People of good intentions don't want to believe our system incentivizes this terrible behavior..." pic.twitter.com/qcwSxuQqwe
So what are the chances of Congress adopting a sensible, Ron Johnson-esque approach to these acute and unrelenting policy challenges? One can always hold out hope, but consider the political backdrop of House Democrats being unable to rally behind a bill to implement the sort of "clean" DREAM Act they've been demanding for years. Why? They're fighting amongst themselves about whether or not that sort of amnesty (which I generally favor) should be extended to illegal immigrants with criminal records. Yes, really:
House Democrats have shelved plans to advance legislation protecting “Dreamers” next week, delivering a setback to the caucus on a top legislative priority. The bill is stalled because of an intraparty fight over providing citizenship to undocumented immigrants with criminal records, multiple lawmakers and aides said Thursday, and a likely committee vote is now delayed...Democrats are worried the bill as currently written couldn't even survive a committee markup and have privately fretted about the potential amendments Republicans will offer. Senior Democrats are also concerned that Republicans could weaponize the Dreamers bill on the floor and force immigration votes on amendments that could be tough for swing district Democrats to oppose...The bill, authored by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), would allow undocumented immigrants to commit three misdemeanors before they’re disqualified from seeking citizenship. But some Democrats worry the language in the bill is too broad and want to consider changes so that committing only certain misdemeanors would allow people to remain on the path to citizenship.
I'll leave you with a question for every Democratic presidential candidates: How many crimes should an illegal immigrant be allowed to commit while maintaining his eligibility to become a citizen?