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“Unnecessary Deportations”: Ted Cruz’s New ‘Top Priority’

The humanitarian crisis at the border has clearly riled the political landscape in ways that are still unfolding, but which have changed the calculus of the immigration debate. Most notably, Democrats who were united behind a comprehensive solution, unified against Republican intransigence, are now splintered on how best to deal with these migrant children.

GOP officials would like nothing more than to keep Democrats off-balance and arguing among themselves, though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) might have missed the memo.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz plans to take a hard-line stand that could rile up conservatives just as lawmakers – including two from his home state – are struggling to address the growing humanitarian crisis along the southern border.

The conservative firebrand believes that any bill to deal with the unaccompanied migrant children at the border must also include language to stop a 2012 immigration directive from President Barack Obama – a proposal unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The senator’s spokesperson told Politico that ending the White House’ deferred action plan is now Cruz’s “top priority.”

There are two broad angles to this: the policy and the politics. Cruz, true to form, is managing to screw up both.

Substantively, the far-right Texan, who’ll presumably find some allies in his new crusade, is pushing for unnecessary deportations for no particular reason. Remember, at issue here are two very different groups of young immigrants: one is the recent influx of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America; the other is the group of undocumented youths known as Dream Act kids – or “Dreamers” – who’ve been living, working, and studying in the United States for most of their lives.

This latter group is protected against deportation by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, unveiled two years ago. Cruz’s “top priority” is to identify these young people, for whom the United States is the only country they’ve ever known, and kick them out of the country. Indeed, the Texas Republican is saying any solution to the humanitarian crisis involving the migrant children must undo the DACA policy.

For the far-right, DACA is to blame for the recent influx, which makes mass deportations necessary. Reality paints a very different picture.

As for the politics, Cruz’s new “top priority” does Democrats a favor: it gives Dems something to rally against, while reminding the public that many Republicans are pushing an aggressive and unpopular anti-immigrant campaign.

If the American mainstream opposed the Dream Act, this might be a smarter move, but all available evidence suggests the exact opposite: the Dream Act has traditionally been a bipartisan policy, and there’s no public appetite to kick these young people out.

If Democrats are really lucky, Cruz will rally the right to his cause.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 17, 2014

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Deportation, Humanitarian Crisis, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Legitimate Refugees Should Not Be Deported”: The Children Deserve Their Deportation Hearings

The politics surrounding the surge of migrant children at our Southern border are predictable: Republicans blast President Obama; Obama asks Congress for more money to deal with the problem; immigration advocates insist on fewer deportations.

But in the middle of that clichéd drama are gut-wrenching stories about children — including some who are quite young — undertaking a dangerous, lonely journey either alone or in the company of unreliable strangers. It’s hard to fathom.

How awful must conditions be at home for impoverished parents to pay $6,000 for criminal smugglers to take a seven- or eight-year-old child hundreds of miles away? How desperate must a young child be to get on the road alone to try to find Mom and Dad in another country?

News accounts tell those pitiful stories. Ten-year-old Angel and his 7-year-old sister, Dulce, longed to join their parents in the Los Angeles area. They traveled by bus with relatives from Chimaltenango, Guatemala, to the Rio Grande, but their adult kin left them to cross the river with other youngsters.

A 14-year-old boy from Honduras said that his parents were dead and he was hoping to find an aunt in New Orleans. Then there was 11-year-old Nodwin, who said he left Honduras by himself — nearly drowning in the Rio Grande — to get away from criminal gangs, which enforce their rule through torture and rape.

The United States, which thinks of itself as exceptional and indispensable, has an obligation to do what it can to help these children, whose plight has rightly been termed a humanitarian crisis. We can do better than immediate deportations.

In fact, a law intended to curb human trafficking that was passed during the administration of George W. Bush mandates that those children be given deportation hearings to consider their requests for refugee status. Meanwhile, they must be given food, shelter and reasonable accommodations. (Under the same law, unaccompanied minors from contiguous countries, Canada and Mexico, are immediately turned back if they are caught.)

The law may well have contributed to the stunning surge of children — some of them as young as kindergarteners — trying to enter the country illegally. More than 50,000 children have tried to enter the U.S. in the last eight months, officials say. In Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the three countries that account for most of the refugees, the law has apparently been misinterpreted by parents and children as a policy of broad leniency toward undocumented minors.

In addition to that misunderstanding, kids are propelled by poverty and violence. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world; Guatemala, the fifth highest. Who could blame them for trying to escape that?

But the crush of refugees has created a political embarrassment for President Obama. In a futile effort to garner GOP support for comprehensive immigration reform, the president has pursued a tough deportation policy toward adults, ensnaring not just felons, but also some undocumented workers who committed minor traffic offenses. The policy hasn’t won over GOP critics, but it has alienated some of Obama’s Latino supporters.

With midterm elections approaching, Republicans are using the refugee crisis as a sledgehammer, insisting the president has broken the law. Sarah Palin has gone so far as to call for Obama’s impeachment. None of the president’s critics acknowledge that he is following a law that several of them supported just a few years ago.

Under the searing pressure, Obama has called for billions to pay for more guards, drones and detention facilities; he has also suggested that he would support a change in the law that would quicken the deportation of unaccompanied minors.

That’s a mistake. The United States cannot solve Central America’s problems of poverty and violence, nor can it take tens of thousands of undocumented children. But it can take those who would qualify for legitimate refugee status.

The children deserve their deportation hearings, and the president should stand steadfast to make sure they get them.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, July 12, 2014

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Border Crisis, Deportation, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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