Until now, the politics of immigration have been seen as a no-lose proposition for President Obama and the Democrats. If they could get a comprehensive overhaul passed, they would win. And if Republicans blocked it, the GOP would further alienate crucial Hispanic and moderate voters.

But with the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October, that calculus may be shifting.

Republicans and even some Democrats have accused Obama of being insufficiently engaged in a calamity that many say he should have seen coming…

The emergency has also renewed questions about the administration’s competence, reminiscent of those raised during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, last year’s botched rollout of the health-care law and more recent revelations of mismanagement that jeopardized care of patients at veterans hospitals.

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According to Brian Bennett’s intensely reported July 5 Los Angeles Times story, U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show that officers took fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras into custody annually for most of the last decade. Then, in fiscal year 2012, officers seized 10,146 unaccompanied minors. Last fiscal year, they took 20,805; between last October and this June 15, they nabbed 39,133. The overused word “crisis” fits the numbers—indeed, “invasion” doesn’t seem too strong. By July 8, however, the White House had downgraded the invasion from a “crisis” to a “situation.”

Many Americans are deeply disturbed by the “situation.” They resent the expenditure of resources and the appropriation of facilities for the detention of the minors. They fear the public health consequences of their dispersion, with reports reliably indicating, despite attempts to suppress the information, the presence of tuberculosis and other unwelcome conditions among them. They also suspect that the president of the United States supports the situation.

Conditions have not suddenly changed in the minors’ home countries. So far as we can tell, the cartels and their customers have a sophisticated understanding of American immigration law (it prohibits the immediate deportation of minors “other than Mexican”) and how the White House enforces it (President Obama, as he made clear in a 2012 executive order regarding illegal minors, would prefer not to). As a Cleveland immigration attorney told Bennett, “The cartels have figured out where the hole is.”

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The surge of Latin American children trying to cross the U.S. border threatens to strain states’ resources and is testing their already fragile relationship with Washington, governors from both parties warned Friday…

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican whose state is housing 1,100 immigrant children at Fort Sill – just 100 shy of total capacity – said she’s still grasping at the scope of the problem and worried about the conditions the children now face.

“We had one case of chicken pox. We’ve had many cases of scabies and lice,” Fallin said.

She added that there’s been no guidance about how long the children will be housed, whether they’re entitled to any taxpayer-funded benefits, from education to Medicaid to foster care. And she’s unsure whether they might be “let loose in the United States” once they turn 18.

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Illegal immigrants are being secretly flown to Massachusetts and kept in local lockups in an under-the-radar operation that has alarmed lawmen who are raising health and security concerns amid recent spikes in detainees coming up from Texas during the latest border crisis.

“We’re all becoming border sheriffs now with these people being carted all over the country,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson.

“The blame goes all the way up. It’s a travesty and people ought to be upset,” Hodgson said. “This is un-American and has raised the stakes to the public health and public safety threat.”

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In a sign of the far-reaching impact of the U.S. immigration crisis and its political fallout, Nebraska’s governor says 200 children who entered the country illegally were sent to his state this week without warning and that federal officials are refusing to identify them or their locations.

Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, said federal officials also wouldn’t answer questions about public school attendance by the children and the potential costs to taxpayers.

“Governors and mayors have the right to know when the federal government is transporting a large group of individuals, in this case illegal immigrants, into your state,” Mr. Heineman told The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Saturday. “We need to know who they are, and so far, they are saying they’re not going to give us that information.”…

“There are concerns that this type of activity—placing children in locations across the country—is occurring throughout the United States, and information is not being shared appropriately with states,” the Republican Governors Association policy director, Marie Thomas Sanderson, wrote in an email to members on Friday and viewed by the Journal.

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The thousands of undocumented minors in U.S. detention facilities includes an unknown number of pregnant teenaged immigrants.

The pregnant minors have been moved into longer-term shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services in order to provide federally funded health care…

Under the 14th Amendment their children will be American citizens if they are born in the United States. It is unclear whether the mothers — and their children — will be deported. Wolfe did not respond to multiple requests for comment on that issue, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

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Individuals associated with human trafficking organizations are asking Health and Human Services officials to hand over the children who have immigrated to the United States during the recent border surge, according to a congressman who toured a facility where the children are being housed.

HHS is trying to release the children to sponsors in the United States, but those sponsors aren’t always parents. “There have been cases of people who have attempted to be sponsors actually being identified as associated with trafficking organizations,” Representative Jim Bridenstine (R., Okla) told National Review Online after visiting a housing facility at Fort Sill…

“If you can’t pay your coyote or your criminal organization, they will force you into slave labor or they will force you into prostitution,” the congressman said. And of the children who did make it to American custody, “a significant percentage of the children in these facilities have been abused, in one way or another, coming to the United States,” according to Bridenstine.

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Adult illegal immigrants posing as unaccompanied alien children appear to be attempting to enroll at public high schools, city officials in Lynn, Mass., tell National Review Online.

“Some of them have had gray hair and they’re telling you that they’re 17 years old and they have no documentation,”
Jamie Cerulli, the Lynn mayor’s chief of staff, tells NRO. “If my children went to the public schools, I’d be very uncomfortable with all of these unaccompanied minors [that] are placed in the ninth grade.”…

Sometimes fraud is remarkably obvious. Latham says any child that plans to attend Lynn Public Schools must make an appointment with the Parent Information Center and provide identification and residency information in order to be accepted and placed into one of the public schools.

In one instance, an unaccompanied alien minor brought a warrant for his arrest to the center and provided it to center officials.

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The court system is so overwhelmed that it can currently take three years to get a hearing, and many believe the delays will only get worse in the months ahead. For many immigrants, the delays in the court system work in their favor because they know they have so long before their cases are resolved.

“This situation just happens to be a magnitude unlike anything we have ever seen,” said Lauren Alder Reid, counsel for legislative and public affairs at the U.S. Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the courts.

Immigration courts in the United States have long been troubled. The courts, overseen by the Department of Justice, have more than 375,000 cases being handled by just 243 judges, according to the agency…

“The system is so dysfunctional,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “They get to stay, and the more time they spend here, the more difficult it is to get them removed.”

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First lady Michelle Obama grabbed the political reins during a speech to the League of United Latin American Citizens in New York City, telling the crowd of admirers not to worry — that her husband wouldn’t wait on Congress to take action on immigration reform.

“So make no mistake about it — we have to keep on fighting as hard as we can on immigration,” Mrs. Obama said, to a cheering crowd, Breitbart reported. “And as my husband has said, he’s going to do whatever administrative action it takes to fix this broken system.”…

“We cannot afford to wait on Congress to lift up our next generation,” she said, Breitbart reported. “We can’t afford to wait on anybody when it comes to our kids’ future. Your grandparents and parents didn’t wait for opportunities to come to them. No, they packed up their families and moved to this country for a better life.”

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Immigration from nearby countries — and, to some extent, all modern immigration — presents absorption problems that were not present with, say, European immigrants in the late 18th and early 19th century. To have a few unassimilated ethnic and linguistic minorities is normal in a large, modern country. But it is one thing to have a couple of Ukrainian churches in Philadelphia or a handful of German-speaking communities in Texas. It is another thing to have a socio-linguistic Berlin Wall or three running through practically every community in the country. Adjacency to Mexico, along with easier travel and communication, makes assimilating Mexican immigrants more difficult than assimilating the Irish generations ago. This is not at all helped by opportunistic political entrepreneurs such as La Raza and MEChA, which cultivate racial sentiment and separatism within Hispanic communities. Some parts of the country, such as my native West Texas, have long been Anglo-Hispanic cultural hybrids, and that can be a wonderful thing. It is not necessarily a good model for the country at large.

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