Real Cause of the Border Crisis: Following the Law
A 2008 bill paved the way for this issue
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2014 1:40 PM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference after meeting with Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas about immigration on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – Conservatives like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have alleged that President Obama's "lawlessness"—in the form of his jury-rigged de facto Dream Act implementation—is to blame for the children currently swarming across the border. But the truth is "that this crisis has actually been brought about by Obama following the law," points out Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. Indeed several columnists today are focusing on the impact of an obscure 2008 human trafficking law that passed both houses by unanimous consent and was signed by George W. Bush. Here's what they're saying:

  • The law guarantees child immigrants a hearing, allowing them to stay with family in the US in the meantime. The process can take 18 months, and most children simply don't show up for their hearings when the time comes.
  • The law was a well-intentioned attempt to fight sex-trafficking, but it's "mutated into a source of chaos," writes Charles Lane at the Washington Post. Trafficking mafias are getting rich on it and an unforeseen wave of Central American immigrants are crowding detention centers. Children wind up growing up undocumented and living in the shadows. "This isn't anyone's idea of sustainable immigration … Some call the situation a humanitarian crisis. I prefer 'national scandal.'"
  • Lane prefers amending the law to exclude unaccompanied Central American minors, so there's no incentive to send them. But Charles Blow at the New York Times rejects that, saying that the premise of the law is "noble and humane." "These are children we are talking about, not just numbers, not just data, not political pawns."
  • This is the fundamental problem; everyone agrees our immigration laws are out of date and broken, but not on how to fix them, observes Rob Hunter at KTAR. He advises lawmakers to remember what John F. Kennedy said: "There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction."