A few weeks ago, after a reporting trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I wrote a post concluding that the influx of Central American immigrants on the border amounts to a legitimately complex situation, and that I hoped people would respond calmly and thoughtfully. Plenty of people have done so. I would point to the many locals who immediately stepped up as volunteers, and to the men and women of the Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley Sector; in my experience their public information officers have an oddly anhedonic attitude about both the public and information, but most of the agents are very nice and hardworking.
A number of politicians, too, have offered serious responses. As you can see from the Washington Post’s rundown, neither side has had a unified response, but both have offered valid suggestions, a number of which are not actually mutually exclusive. Bipartisanship has reared its head: despite the total absence of rapport between Barack Obama and Rick Perry, the president described his meeting with the governor last week as “constructive”, and John Cornyn has teamed with Henry Cuellar, the Democratic representative from Laredo, to introduce legislation that would streamline enforcement proceedings for children from non-contiguous countries.
The politics of the situation, however, have naturally devolved into mutual recriminations. Since I wrote the previous post, I’ve heard from a number of Democrats and journalists who’ve fiercely pushed back against my suggestion that Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order announcing a major change in how his administration would enforce America’s immigration law with regard to minors is worth noting in this context. The gist of their argument is that that since the order had terms and conditions, it’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone in Central America could have misinterpreted the order itself, or the president’s speech announcing it and calling on Congress to pass the DREAM Act, or the cavalcade of hope-and-change press coverage that followed, as suggesting that if they managed to make it to the United States, they would probably be allowed to stay.
The pushback on that point was so vehement that at times I felt that I was witnessing Democratic bias in the mainstream media. But let’s set aside Obama’s executive order for the time being. I want to gently address a couple of premises are fairly common among advocates of comprehensive immigration reform advocates—well-intended premises, plausible premises, but premises that don't apply so well at the moment.