Another Obama-Era Official: Yes, There's a Serious Crisis at the Southern Border

Posted: Jun 05, 2019 1:55 PM

President Obama's former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has been making this point repeatedly for months: In spite of the partisan 'manufactured crisis' rhetoric from many Democrats during the midterm election campaign (Nancy Pelosi is now trying to re-write history on that now-unsustainable posture), the border crisis is an acute reality. (UPDATE - 'Crisis' skeptics should just read these new statistics).  We've run through some of the reasons why, as American law enforcement resources and capabilities are being overwhelmed by the endless and unsustainable flow of unlawful entrants.  It's gotten so bad, with drug cartels reportedly exploiting loopholes in our generous asylum laws, that even the New York Times editorial board has felt compelled to acknowledge what's happening.  This week, the Obama-era commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection echoed Johnson's sentiment on CNN:

"So this is a crisis, and for anyone on either side of the policy aisle that said it's not a crisis, these numbers are a crisis and the workload is tremendous."

Several lawmakers have moved to reform our broken system, which remains rife with perverse incentives, while others take potshots from the sidelines.  Here's Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) challenging Sen. Bernie Sanders to either sign on to solutions, or pipe down on 'virtue signaling:'

As I alluded to earlier, even the editors of the Times have endorsed fulfilling President Trump's request.  And Graham's bill is explained here.  With the border crisis an established fact, Trump has again endangered Republican party unity by threatening punitive and coercive tariffs against the Mexican government, tying trade policy to immigration demands.  With the GOP pressing Speaker Pelosi to bring the USMCA, or NAFTA 2.0, to the floor for a vote (it has bipartisan support), some Republicans on Capitol Hill are simultaneously mulling measures to rein in Trump's new tariff threats:

Congressional Republicans have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block President Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico, potentially igniting a second standoff this year over Trump’s use of executive powers to circumvent Congress, people familiar with the talks said. The vote, which would be the GOP’s most dramatic act of defiance since Trump took office, could also have the effect of blocking billions of dollars in border wall funding that the president had announced in February when he declared a national emergency at the southern border, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private...Aside from a resolution of disapproval, other lawmakers have argued that Congress should pass legislation that would claw back tariff authority from the executive branch. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) has introduced a bill that would require congressional approval before a president imposes tariffs under the auspices of national security, and again on Monday made a case for his legislation.

I fully support Toomey's bill, and would probably favor other legislative efforts to constrain any president's ability to unilaterally impose effective tax increase on American consumers. But Allahpundit is almost certainly correct about the politics at play here. If Trump doesn't step back from the ledge himself, which he might, the likelihood of Republicans actually voting to thwart him is approximately nil.  Here's why: 

They won’t get 67 votes for a measure that would effectively align the GOP with Mexico against Trump on the subject of immigration. Antagonizing Trump’s personality cult is risky for a Republican incumbent; antagonizing them by siding with the source of America’s border problem and humiliating Trump in the process smells of a primary death wish...wall. Siding with Mexico against Trump on tariffs *and* the wall, at a moment when the crush of asylum-seekers from the south really is at crisis levels?

Highly unlikely.  I'll leave you with this dark irony of Trump's proposed action, coming from the "America First" president:

This scheme is bad politics and bad policy, on multiple levels.  The president is right about the border crisis and the need for urgent action -- on which Congress is seemingly and frustratingly paralyzed.  But this course of action would make matters worse, and would threaten to undermine his core strength heading into 2020: The strong economy, on which he's receiving high marks from voters.