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Do, Don’t Sue

July 19, 2014

As Congress meanders towards its now annual August recess shortly after returning from the July 4th holiday, perhaps the biggest question on the minds of many remains, “Vacation from what?” There exists in Washington no lack of problems in need of solutions, or at least action of some sort that involves Congressional input. Individual members of Congress are not in short supply when it comes to appearing in front of the television cameras answering questions posed by journalists or pundits. But with a week to go before this next scheduled break, there seem to be multitudes of Chicken Littles running around proclaiming the sky is falling and the nation is facing looming disasters on multiple fronts, but none in positions of authority on Capitol Hill willing to actually do anything about them.

The border crisis is making political pawns of child refugees by the GOP House which has refused to act in any way on a proposed Immigration Reform package passed over a year ago by a bipartisan vote in the Senate. Many of the causes of the backlog at the border of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their Central American homelands can be traced to this refusal. Money for increased border security, hammered on incessantly by GOP at both the Congressional and state levels, was included in that bill. The House has also seen fit to ignore, at least so far, pleas from the Administration for funding to help address the shortage of immigration judges and detention centers to deal with this influx. They claim the President is not enforcing current law, but that is exactly what he is trying to do – enforce a law passed by Congress under George W. Bush that sets forth proper procedure for dealing with potential immigrants under just this set of circumstances.

The solution many anti-immigrant folks seek is to just send them all back where they came from without any legal due process as set forth by the law. Most of these children are coming from countries in Central America with the highest murder rates in the world. Perhaps most would end up being sent back by immigration courts, but that should be up to the courts to decide, not politicians desiring the easy way out when what is needed is for them to fund the means by which the law is to be enforced or to write new laws to better address the current situation. The GOP solution, at this point, seems to be a lawsuit being filed against the president by Speaker Boehner for failing to obey the Affordable Care Act by delaying the employer mandate by a year. I could not have come up with a worse non-sequitur if I had tried.

Sending refugees back to the deplorable circumstances which led them to flee their homes and travel great distances to what they hope will be safety is definitely not the humane route. While America has long been a nation built by immigrants and welcoming many, it also has a long history of xenophobia on the part of many of those who have been here longer. The law voted for by many now clamoring for its repeal and signed by the last president of their own party calls for legal protection for these children before possibly sending them back to an uncertain and possibly untenable future from whence they came. That does not seem unreasonable to me. It does to those politicians wishing to pander to a vocal minority which seeks to blame America’s problems on foreign invaders sapping resources and living large off the sweat of True Americans.

The House GOP seem to have become experts at very few things since the GOP took over in 2011. They spent enormous time and money trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Since that has worked out so well, they have decided to spend large sums of taxpayer dollars with investigations of the IRS, Benghazi and other issues that they deem demonstrative of Administration wrong-doing that they never seem quite able to uncover, no matter how hard they try, how long it takes or what it costs. The Boehner lawsuit is just the latest in this series of actions that are nothing more than distractions from the fact that the Congressional GOP steadfastly refuse to take any action which might possibly help out the vast majority of the American people. Some say they just hate the President, or that the Senate Democrats are preventing them from accomplishing anything while he is in the White House. That’s BS. They are dragging down the economy with every attack they make on safety net programs, every day they refuse to raise the minimum wage and every day they refuse to extend unemployment insurance while simultaneously refusing to pass any legislation that would fund expanded infrastructure spending and boost both job creation and the economy.

The House does not need a vacation from Congress. It needs a vacation from empty posturing that leads to either no action or action that is too little and too late to do anything more productive than avert disaster until their next self-imposed deadline -  which is always just after the next election. Congress should set an example of leadership by cancelling its August recess to address the crisis on our border and pass real immigration reform before the November elections. At the same time, perhaps it could find a renewed commitment to serving the needs of all Americans, rather than just those who line their pockets with campaign cash to keep them in office. The Highway Trust Fund solution come up with by the House (which still hasn’t been signed into law, last I heard) is another farce, attempting to use accounting gimmicks to pay for a few more months of construction, rather than the long-term decision that we need. Stop protecting the wealthy and corporations from paying their share of the tax burden and you might be able to solve this problem, immigration and the obscene economic inequality your policies have caused in recent decades at the same time.

Not much will be done after the August recess, either – that is part of the plan. Obfuscate, delay and obstruct till November, then do the same or worse until 2016. Don’t let them. Tell Boehner to do his job, not sue. He’s supposed to be a leader. His suit will not accomplish anything in the way of passing legislation to improve the conditions under which the American people live their lives.  Lawsuits and Congressional hearings that lead to nothing do not fit the job description of the Speaker of the House. If he and McConnell are incapable of performing their jobs (as the results they have achieved over the last four years would indicate), they do not deserve to keep them, let alone be promoted to positions of greater authority.

The children at the border deserve a fair and speedy resolution to their status under the law. The immigration law must be reformed, but we must not forget that there is a difference between someone trying to enter the country to commit other more serious crimes, and one who seeks refuge from horrid conditions they can do little else to avoid. Treating them as little more than talking points in an effort at personal political gain is an atrocity we should not encourage at the polls this November. Our policies, as well as our willingness to permit those conditions to flourish in other nations, have enabled the deteriorating situation we see at our border today. Congress needs to stop not working when they are are not on vacation. Do your jobs or they won’t be there for you much longer.

 

Suggested Further Readings:

Doing Right by the Unaccompanied Children on Our Border

Americans Need to Face the Horror That Undocumented Children Have Experienced

The Republican Demonization of Refugee Children Shames America

Billionaire trio unite for US immigration reform

Martin O’Malley: Don’t send kids to ‘certain death’

“Crisis At The Border” Is Yet Another Example Of “Blowback.”

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating

Really? House GOP Whines About Border Crisis While Killing Its Own Immigration Reform Plan

Behind John Boehner’s Lawsuit: More Distraction From Congressional Inaction

A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis

The Lawyers Suing to Protect Refugee Children

Sending the Refugee Children Home Will Bring Lasting Shame

Podcast: The Crisis At the Border

Borderline Behavior: GOP Demands Action, Blocks Solutions, and Always Complains

America’s Response to Child Refugees Fleeing Bloodbaths Is to Take Terrible Care of Them and Send Them Back

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