With America's attention, diverted for the past week to events in the middle east and Ukraine, once again returning to domestic issues, Obama is coming under renewed pressure to address the immigration issues that has gripped the southern states as this will certainly be a hot topic issue during the midterm elections. Which is probably why the president has sent a team to Texas to assess whether a National Guard deployment would help to handle an immigration crisis at the Mexican border having so far resisted Republican calls for such a move, Reuters reports.
The team, made up of officials from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, departed on Tuesday and will be on the ground through Thursday.
The White House had previously resisted calls from Republicans to deploy the National Guard to fight the onslaught of migrants from Central America because most of the unaccompanied minors and others making the crossing were turning themselves in voluntarily.
But during a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier this month, Obama said he was open to ordering the deployment as a temporary solution. He directed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to send the team of evaluators to assess the situation, one White House official said.
The officials said the federal team would study whether such a role would be useful and make recommendations upon its return.
"There's no foregone conclusion," another official said.
Meanwhile, the underlying problem is getting from bad to worse, and as Bloomberg reported overnight, the flood of children at the border is now overwhelming the US, and as a result "President Obama and congressional Republicans have begun to offer the same simple-sounding solution for dealing with the flood of children crossing the U.S. border alone: Send the kids home."
Since October, more than 57,000 children have arrived by themselves, most from Central America, and 22,000 more have been detained with their parents. While the majority of those caught are teenagers, the greatest increase has been among children younger than 12.
The influx has pushed wait times for immigration cases to a record high of 587 days, or more than a year and a half, according to researchers at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
As of June 30, fewer than 500 of the 57,000 have been sent home, and more children continue to arrive every day, despite pleas from the Obama administration to Central Americans not to come. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been tapped to coordinate the government’s response. Officials are scrambling to charter planes and buses, sending more agents to the border region, and hunting for more shelter sites and people to run them. Even the U.S. Coast Guard has been brought in to assist with transportation.
“The recent dramatic increase is difficult and distressing on a lot of levels,” CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said at a congressional hearing in July.
The White House has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds, including $1.8 billion to care for the newly arrived children and $879 million to pay for detention, prosecution, and what is officially referred to as “removal.” Much of that would go to private companies and contractors -- a list that runs from American Airlines to medical practitioners and shelter providers.
Ironically, it is the funding for the "care" that is the issue at hand.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents find that most don’t try to run; in fact, they want to be caught. The kids hope that being apprehended will begin another journey, one that will end with permission to remain in the U.S. Children from Mexico can be deported without a formal hearing. But a 2008 law intended to combat sex trafficking says those from nonbordering countries -- such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras -- must be allowed to plead their cases before a judge.
Another reason why do they want to be caught: Recall that the government has authorized the spending of $50 million on a "resort For "Young Illegal Immigrants", which is effectively a taxpayer-paid for resort that more than half of Americans would love to be detained in. A resort (which is indicative of the bigger underlying issue) which as we rhetorically asked: 'if immigrants know they can expect such white glove treatment, will it make them more or less likely to cross the border?"
We now know the answer.