The Obama Watch

A Flashing Green Light

Migrants read Obama’s signals correctly.

By 7.16.14

UPI
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The tens of thousands of Central Americans who have crossed America’s porous borders over the last year came on the assumption that once on U.S. soil they would never have to return to their countries. The instigators of this influx correctly viewed Obama’s de facto support for amnesty as a flashing green light.

After all, how seriously were they going to take U.S. immigration law under a president who treated border security as a punch line to a joke? In 2011, Obama loudly mocked conservatives, the very ones who foresaw today’s mushrooming crisis, as malcontents crying wolf about a vulnerable border.

“You know, they said ‘we needed to triple the border patrol.’ Well, now they're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol, or they’ll want a higher fence,” he said at the time. “Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. I understand. That’s politics. But the truth is the measures we put in place are getting results.”

Once again, his cockiness has been punctured by a crisis. His critics were right and he was wrong. His supposedly balanced approach to border security was clearly not “getting results.” Had he listened to the cries for real border security, today’s humanitarian catastrophe could have been averted.

Obama takes little to no interest in the real responsibilities of the federal government while pursuing with considerably more zeal imaginary ones. Securing the border, one would think a topic of intense concern for a president, never commanded his attention. Texas Governor Rick Perry said recently that Obama is so ignorant of the subject that he didn’t know his border patrol in Texas isn’t actually on the border but 40 miles from it. “He was not knowledgeable about where his border patrol was stationed,” said Perry.

Obama’s comment last week about not wanting to visit the border comically inverts the reality of his presidency: “This isn’t theater. I’m not interested in photo ops. I’m interested in solving a problem.” This has been a presidency of non-stop photo ops while problems fester. As the Texas media noted, his stated aversion to political theater didn’t stop him from holding a political event at a theater in Austin during his visit to the state.

The public’s overwhelming disapproval of his handling of the crisis has forced his administration to take some token action. Obama’s head of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, at first couldn’t bring himself to utter the word deportation, but as public outrage grows he now says, though still hesitantly, that the Central American illegal immigrants will be sent back. This week Homeland Security is trumpeting that it has sent “40” detainees back to Honduras.

This is what passes for bold action by the Obama administration. Were the public outcry not so loud and the chaos not so obvious, it would have been loath to take even that action. The vast majority of the 57,000 children who have come in the last nine months can count on staying for years if not permanently. The rate of return for illegal minors in recent years has been extremely low.

Of course, the Left doesn’t want a single one of the illegal immigrants deported. It is casting any enforcement of the law as gross nativism. Obama’s defenders at the New York Times are happy that he has proposed throwing billions of dollars at the problem, including making sure that migrants receive the best lawyers possible, but are disappointed that his request includes money for more border agents.

Obama had to include that for his request to receive any chance of a hearing. He is even willing to send some National Guard troops to the border if that means winning the support of the Texas delegation. But left to his own devices, he would no doubt follow the counsel of the New York Times. Open borders were part of the fundamental transformation he had in mind for America.

It wasn’t lost on leftists in Central America that he has been using his executive power to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants when possible. They heard him loud and clear when he said after winning re-election that he wanted to make sure that the children of illegal immigrants “shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation.”

Obama has been making pro-amnesty noises for six years, and now acts surprised that they were heard in Central America. But by his logic, the real magnet for migrants was Republican intransigence to his “path to citizenship.” He blamed the border breakdown last week on opposition to his immigration bill, a claim as convincing as his disdain for photo ops. A president who can’t be bothered to visit the border was never going to enforce immigration law seriously, and the migrants knew it.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.