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James Marshall Crotty Headshot

Dear President Obama: Secure The Border Now Or Risk Civil War

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As any grade-schooler, let alone a graduate of Harvard Law School, knows, the first job of a US President is to protect the homeland. Nothing comes before that sacred duty. Not famine abroad, not health insurance at home, not even Lilly Ledbetter. The President exercises this primary function as the Commander-in-Chief. And the most elemental expression of the Commander-in-Chief role is border security.

President Barack Obama has made a running joke of this mandate. After busying himself playing pool and drinking beer with the Governor of Colorado on Tuesday (to the shocked dismay of at least one Texas Democrat), on Wednesday the President had the chutzpah to proclaim that he will not forthrightly halt the flow of illegal immigrants into this Recession-racked country until Republicans sign off on amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants already here.

With that cowardly, cynical statement, it is now sadly clear to this columnist that Mr. Obama -- whose progressive stances on environmental protection, gay marriage, and ending the war in Iraq I fulsomely backed -- has zero interest in fully protecting our borders. He and the Democratic Party have too much to gain demographically -- and, thus, politically -- by minting newly indebted voters through making the US a magnet for illegal immigration. It's Chicago Machine patronage on a grand and twisted scale.

The facts speak for themselves. Of the reported 240,000 migrants -- 52,000 of them children -- that have arrived illegally in the last several months (with 300,000 more currently on their way), a Senate hearing yesterday confirmed that only 10% were actually sent back to their host countries. If you are sitting in Central America and calculating your chances of gaining a relatively comfy new life in America -- on Uncle Sam's dime -- those are pretty good odds.

It gets worse.

Only 10% of unaccompanied minors required by law to show up for immigration status hearings actually showed up, a U.S. Immigration and Customs official testified Wednesday. And only 46% of illegal immigrant children accompanied by an adult actually showed up for status hearings.

For these children and their families a notice to appear is a "notice to disappear" into the shadows, never to be heard from again. The reason is simple. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is responsible for placing illegal immigrant children in safe environs as they await status hearings, routinely places such children in the homes of parents and guardians who themselves are here illegally.

What do you think are the chances of an illegal immigrant parent or guardian bringing their illegal immigrant child to a status hearing? Not very good. Yet, such illegal-immigration-encouraging placements are precisely what the Obama administration continues to do with the tens of thousands of children pouring over our border right now.

News travels fast in illegal immigrant circles. No doubt, the illegal immigrant parents and guardians of illegal immigrant children already here have spread the word throughout the Americas that if you get here, you are in. And 90% of the time they are right.

Only now, at this late hour, is the President contemplating a paltry expenditure -- about $5 million -- to spread the word via some ill-fated public information campaign that Central American parents should not send their children to the US border. He can't be serious. If we had a $1 billion information campaign across every bus shelter and billboard in Guatemala City, San Salvador, and Tegucigalpa, nothing appreciable would change. Why? Because such public information would not match up with US border policy.

You see, as the illegal immigrants pouring into our country well know, the pitcher is leaking out the bottom, but the President continues to let a flood of water back in. His pathetic HHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flunkies that appeared before a Senate inquiry on Wednesday confirmed as much. As I listened on CSPAN radio, an infuriating Mark H. Greenberg, acting assistant secretary at HHS, finally had to admit that it was a deliberate administration policy not to ask the immigration status of parents with whom they were placing illegal immigrant children. Are you kidding me? If the President was dead serious about stopping illegal immigration, and if all departments of government were, in turn, working in consort to solve this epidemic, immigration status would be the first thing that HHS checked. No wonder illegal immigrant children don't show up for deportation hearings. Their illegal immigrant parents and guardians don't want to be busted themselves!

The President is out of excuses. For two years after he entered office in 2009, Mr. Obama enjoyed Democratic control of both houses of Congress. At that juncture -- a time when fiscal stimulus was universally called for -- he could have appropriated enough money and manpower to almost completely end illegal immigration across our borders. He trumpeted then and has trumpeted ever since the percentage increases he made in personnel, equipment, deportations and so on over the previous administration. However, most Americans are not seeking a percentage breakdown or incremental improvements. We want a complete moratorium on illegal immigration. Then, and only then, will we consider what to do with the law-breakers already here.

However, the President was never interested in stopping illegal immigration. Democrats knew that they could solidify their electoral gains in swing states like New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado (and soon Texas) by talking a good game, but, in fact, doing nothing. If the President were genuinely interested in solving the problem, he would have implemented an all-hands-on-deck approach to border enforcement six years ago. Instead, he played the blame game. He's at it still.

And yet the thing is, even at this late hour -- as the border crisis metastasizes, as armed citizen militias talk openly about taking border control into their own hands, as socially liberal, eco-friendly types like me fume over the deliberate delays and rhetorical obfuscation from this administration -- President Obama still has one last chance, a tiny and short window before all hell breaks loose, to deal with the elephant in the living room of his weak-kneed tenure.

The final hour wake-up call would start with a no-strings-attached supplemental spending bill that would fund thousands more border control agents, including much-needed researchers, lawyers, and judges to detect the high-level of political asylum fraud -- which is upwards of 70%, according to yesterday's Senate testimony -- plus sizable medical personnel to screen, and, if necessary, quarantine the many illegal immigrant transporting diseases against which this country has scant protection. This bill would also modify the ill-conceived William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 so the US could immediately deport any illegal immigrant from any part of the world in as little as one day. The supplemental spending bill would fund expanded detention facilities and courtrooms right on the border (not far afield, where illegal immigrants can easily escape detection) plus funding for planes to send illegal immigrants back to their home countries, often on the very day they arrive. Believe me, once those planes started landing en masse throughout Central America, the locals would get the message: No Vuelvas.

Moreover, such a bill would save the President's bacon on the economic front. After all, this President has routinely asked U.S. employers to hire returning war veterans. I have done so. And I know many other American entrepreneurs have done so as well.

However, for those thousands of vets unable to find work in the private sector, there could be job openings right now as border patrol agents for which their armed service on the borders in Iraq and Afghanistan makes them eminently qualified. Just say the word, Mr. President.

But the shamefully AWOL Mr. Obama would rather shoot pool, drink beer, play golf, and attend fundraisers than deal directly with the greatest domestic crisis of his Presidency. What kind of lawyer leaves the prima facie investigation of a catastrophe to his underlings? Yet, that is precisely what the President has done.

He's sent his feckless Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson to the border six times. By the way, this is the same Jeh Johnson -- the Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown of this administration -- whose repeated failure to directly answer questions about the administration's intentions in this area on last Sunday's Meet the Press (read the transcript) was an even greater abomination than Susan Rice's ill-fated trip to that same table.

Naturally, not once has President Obama gone to the border himself. He said on Wednesday that this is because he doesn't want to turn the crisis into "theater."

Say, what?

Obama's AWOL status during this defining crisis is worse than George W. Bush's atrocious performance during Hurricane Katrina. After all, Bush at least visited Louisiana and Mississippi. Might this President find -- if he deigned to visit our southern flank -- facts on the ground that would empirically contradict his open border narrative? Yes.

In particular, he might learn from real live border agents in the field (not carefully chosen agents prepped by the President's advance team) -- what formerly confidential surveys revealed in yesterday's Senate hearings confirmed -- that most of those children and families currently descending on the border did so because they got a clear signal from our President that they would find safe harbor once here.

Obama's open border apologists counter that the "innocent" women and children currently descending on our border are escaping poverty and violence. That they have no other choice but to run a dangerous gauntlet for Texas, New Mexico or Arizona. However, poverty and violence in Mexico and Central America have gone on for decades. What has appreciably changed over the last two years is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

However, the President doesn't want to hear that. The President does not want to see his role in this mess. This is why President Obama -- who is clearly the guilty party in this humanitarian disaster -- continues to spin it as a problem of Republican politics.

However, as made clear by the massive increase of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America since the President's DACA executive order -- passed June 15, 2012, conveniently a day after Flag Day (and my 53rd birthday) -- this is clearly a problem of Presidential policy.

Now think for a moment if the President expanded DACA to what he has deceptively dubbed "immigration reform." Instead of doing the sensible thing and first completely shutting down the border to illegal immigration -- and verifying that shutdown from independent and objective sources -- the President's plan would grant amnesty to anyone already here, just as we were finally trying to clamp down on illegal immigration in earnest. The resulting stampede for all U.S. border points from all corners of the planet would net millions crying for political asylum and amnesty, plus other health and human service protections, within months.

My friends, you are seeing in miniature on our borders right now what would happen writ large once the world gets a whiff that amnesty might become policy in Washington, DC. No matter how quickly the law got funded, we would not be able to staff up quickly enough to effectively stop the bum rush. Our borders would be overwhelmed almost overnight. And, believe me, the law-abiding citizens in border areas -- whose land, cattle, property and families would be violently threatened like never before -- would not stand idly by. They would fight back. And you could have tens of thousands of dead and wounded illegal immigrants on our country's southern flank.

Is that what you want, Mr. President? An all-out border war? With National Guardsmen arresting and fighting our own countrymen, instead of protecting us from the illegal immigrant invasion? You are already signaling that is your priority by sending National Guard personnel to stop the protests in Murrieta, California, instead of using those guardsmen to stop the flow of illegal immigrants that are giving the good citizens of Murrieta such justifiable angst.

We need ten thousand more border control agents to completely and permanently stem the tide of smugglers, thieves, killers, human traffickers, rapists, would-be terrorists, and, yes, illegal immigrant women and children pouring across our southern border. In other words, a jobs program that both parties and most sensible Americans could get behind. But, as with Syria, ISIS, and a host of other ills, this passive President is again many years late and several billion dollars short.

Instead of stoking this powder keg, which is bringing long-simmering and well-armed Nativist elements out of the shadows, our apologetic President should, instead, fly his entourage to the US border forthwith and deliver a real Berlin moment. And not the populist pabulum he served up to his Euro acolytes during the 2010 campaign. He should say candidly to the people of Mexico, Central America and South America that: A. Under no circumstances will you be given political asylum in America (Lady Liberty has already fallen for that gambit one too many times); B. You will not be reunited with your families; C. You will not be given work visas or citizenship; and D. You need to stay home and work to make your own countries better. Period.

Moreover, he needs to send a clear, full-throated, and unequivocal message to the governments of Latin America that, unless you proactively police your borders, reform your politics and law enforcement, and stem the tide of women and children flowing towards our border, you will be punished with sanctions, trade restrictions, and worse.

Obama could do it. He should do it. However, he is not courageous enough to do it.

Instead, he lets the border crisis fester because it serves him politically to do so.

Friends, we are not cold-hearted bigots because we, like every civilized nation on earth, put reasonable limits on who can and who cannot enter our country at any one time. We are not cruel and insensitive because we expect neighboring Mexico to use its sizable energy and mineral wealth to help its own people, enforce its own borders, and to stop cynically profiting from the repatriated income of illegal immigrants without having to pay for their health care, education, driving privileges, housing, Food Stamps, and sundry other needs.

President Obama, violence is poised to break out during this heated summer from ranchers, farmers, and ordinary citizens who are sick and tired of having their lands trampled on, and their communities overwhelmed, by drug smugglers, human traffickers, rapists, killers, and all manner of other illegal immigrant.

Sir, do you want the next American Civil War on your watch?

Then do what both Democrats and Republicans are pleading for you to do and get thee to the border now. Moreover, once there, announce that you are going to support a $30 billion emergency-spending bill -- with no strings attached -- that totally secures this nation's border for decades to come.

You will find that once you genuinely secure our border -- with 10,000 new border patrol agents, including 1000 National Guardsmen in the interim, and all manner of high-tech surveillance tools -- that you will get your amnesty program within a year. And not just for Dreamers, but for all 18-20 million illegal immigrants (the 11 million figure is tossed out by open border apologists to make amnesty easier to swallow) here in this country right now.

The fabric of this fragile Republic, the fate of tens of thousands of children who are victims of your misguided actions (one-third of the young girls traveling to our border have been raped and/or abused en route) -- as well as your Presidential legacy -- depends on your actions over the next few days. Please do the right thing and completely secure our borders now.

--@CROTTY