Cuellar’s the guy who dumped on Obama last week for somehow finding time to shoot pool over beers with John Hickenlooper in Colorado but not to head down to the border and see for himself what the BP’s dealing with. Here’s his attempt at bipartisan compromise with Cornyn. On one side, border hawks want Central American kids who’ve just arrived from Mexico immediately put on planes and sent home. On the other side, immigration activists want loads and loads of “due process” for each kid, replete with drawn-out deportation hearings, knowing that the slower the system moves, the more kids will evade it entirely and have de facto amnesty in the U.S. (For a vivid illustration, read this and note the line “Hope you enjoy the summer.”)
The Cornyn/Cuellar compromise: Give each kid a very accelerated hearing.
The legislation would rewrite the law to allow Central American minors be treated like those from Mexico and Canada, who can be deported more quickly. Under the plan, unaccompanied minors from any country would be able to have an immigration court hearing within seven days of their processing by Health and Human Services, and an immigration judge would be required to rule within three more days on whether the child would be allowed to stay or be deported.
The bill authorizes 40 new immigration judges to help process the cases…
The Cornyn-Cuellar bill does not strip all the protections in the 2008 law, which mandates that the Border Patrol turn over children from Central America to Health and Human Services within 72 hours of apprehension until they face immigration court proceedings. The new legislation would maintain that provision.
If the bill passes and the system moves efficiently (giggle), each kid could be here and back home within two weeks. According to official figures, roughly 52,000 kids have been taken into federal custody since last October. That’s nearly 200 a day; divvying up those cases among 40 immigration judges should, it seems, be manageable, but that assumes that the rate of immigration won’t increase. Will it? Also, I’m intrigued that Cuellar is so eager to take a prominent role in tougher enforcement. Granted, he’s from Texas, but his district leans slightly Democratic and is overwhelmingly Latino. Even in a blue border area with a heavy minority population, better enforcement is good politics these days.
But what about nationally? Are Democrats on board with expedited deportation? Keli Goff hopes they are:
[N]ow with the current child border crisis, those who were moved by Vargas’s story, and subsequently softened their position on illegal immigration in good faith, are being asked to bend further by welcoming thousands of more illegal immigrants. And these immigrants will not be able to contribute to the economy as Vargas has, and may already be costing taxpayers close to two billion dollars.
I have already heard from some who have shifted their position on Dreamers thanks to Vargas. But these people are still outraged that they, and their states, are being asked to take responsibility for the thousands of children who have flooded U.S. borders in recent months. The message I have heard can best be summarized in one word: “Enough.”
If progressives really care about seeing comprehensive immigration reform become a reality anytime soon then they need to support President Obama’s plans to deport these immigrant children. If they don’t, then the public is unlikely to continue standing with them in the immigration fight.
My impression is that Democrats are, by and large, open to sending the kids from Central America home more expeditiously. Obama hasn’t ruled it out, and Dems like Cuellar obviously feel comfortable speaking up. But … why? Conn Carroll makes an excellent point:
Why exactly does Obama think a kid from El Salvador who got here yesterday should be loaded onto a plane and sent packing but one who got here five years ago should be free to stay under his DACA amnesty for DREAMers in 2012? To put that another way, is there any distinction that can be drawn here that doesn’t boil down to political expedience? Sure seems like Democrats were happy to have illegals come, even in huge numbers (remember, Rick Perry was warning about an uptick among illegal immigrant children as far back as two years ago), as long as they weren’t coming in numbers so huge that the public began paying attention. The more the public pays attention, the riskier the politics of immigration reform become. And the riskier those politics become, the more painful things are for Democrats, who are caught between vocal left-wing amnesty shills on the one hand and blue-collar Democrats worried about their wages on the other. If you want to pull off a mass amnesty, especially an amnesty by executive order, it would help a lot for the public to go to sleep. They’re awake now, for awhile, so border security suddenly matters. For awhile.