"We're having a conversation about how to be fair to the American taxpayer, how to work with our governors and mayors as we address the issues that have come about because of the surge of the U.A.C.'s on the border," said Rep. Blackburn (R-TN), having just stepped out of a conference meeting. Blackburn made it clear in the interview that she wanted to deport the children on the border as quickly as possible.
When Blackburn was asked about the children with family in the U.S., she explained that they would be going through a different process. What she didn't elaborate on was that 85 percent of the child refugees at the border have family in the U.S.: either we will face a mass deportation of children with family in the U.S. to warzone-like conditions where many will, for a certainty, die or be sex-trafficked, or we will have to come up with a system to assimilate these children.
To give you an idea of where the GOP is, they want to do the prior, spending more on security in a situation where the children are literally waving down border patrol to try to get help before they die of exposure: putting more water on the border would make a difference, putting more guns on the border for Sean Hannity to take a photo next to Rick Perry won't.
The very fact that Republicans were meeting during what was supposed to be a recess means that, despite the fact we've known about the border crisis for some time, a panic switch had been thrown; the fact that top GOP aides were claiming legislation would come out later that day on Friday before a disastrous vote to repeal DACA puts an exclamation point at the end of it.
Currently, it seems as though the GOP House is following their own Pied Piper, Sen. Cruz (R-TX), again, with Speaker Boehner looking on helplessly. This did not go so well during the shutdown and, in the end, while Cruz escaped culpability, the House did not. My best guess is that he'll lead them over the edge again to earn some conservative street cred, and perhaps allow a few of the Representatives to be tagged on his Facebook page in exchange for damaging their careers.
In today's legislative debate, Cruz is leading a charge against DACA, trying to have any money going to the border crisis be tied to limiting Obama's ability to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program to benefit DREAMers (immigrants taken into the U.S. as children without immigration status and typically no chance to adjust it). This comes after Obama's recent announcement to unilaterally fix as much of our broken immigration system as possible. This will most likely come around the end of the summer, and most experts are talking about expanding DACA being the low-hanging fruit.
Treatment of DREAMers is typically a litmus test in the immigrant community: if you can't be for the rights of someone brought into the country as a child through no fault of their own who has done everything right, then you likely would want to deport all 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the country, no questions asked. That really isn't a statement that the GOP wants to make after sinking reform after reform that has come up, especially when the last presidential nominee ran on a "self-deportation" ticket.
This is the tone in Washington, one which is dehumanizing towards the most vulnerable population within our borders, "U.A.C.'s," is not encouraging from a human rights perspective, nor does it help Republicans; after all, immigration may get those Murietta protestors spitting, but it doesn't help the brand nationally, and is a bad investment with shifting demographics. Overall, the GOP is a hot mess on this issue, and the current situation highlights it.
The GOP has derailed reform after reform, from the rightward-leaning Gang of 8 legislation, to the DREAM Act; the broken system has limped on because of this, and could not handle the influx of immigrants during a humanitarian crisis, turning into the border crisis because we didn't have the capacity to help these child refugees fast enough; instead of putting them into shelters, they are photographed in what appears to be kennels, which many in the GOP still say is more than they deserve; now, the GOP is cutting down funding to help handle and process these kenneled children, at the same time trying to use them as leverage to attack DACA, the one bit of immigration reform we have seen in years, which benefits the most sympathetic undocumented immigrants we have: there is no way to turn around that narrative.
All throughout the congressional debate earlier today, the theme was the same: Republicans trying to say that this was a response to a crisis that had to be made, Democrats complaining that they were trying to pass panic legislation in a hurry so that they could say at least they did something. It's hard to imagine a last-minute something passing after the panic switched has been thrown, let alone effectively addressing the complicated issues we currently face, or even save the Republican brand from itself.
Follow Ryan Campbell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PoliticallyRyan