This is odd.
In an appearance on CNN addressing the crisis at the southern border, CNN contributor and The Daily Beast columnist was asked about the “optics” of the president failing to go to the border to see the situation with his own eyes. While Kohn said that she would go to the border in between Democratic fundraisers if she were the president, but simultaneously suggested that to demand he do so – an increasingly frequent phenomenon on the left – represents a double standard.
That was not, however, the oddest of odd moments which occurred in this short segment. Seconds later, Kohn insisted that the border crisis was not a border crisis at all. In fact, she seemed believed that it could be more accurately labeled a bureaucratic crisis.
“This is not a border crisis,” Kohn said. “These kids are coming to the border, they’re getting stopped, the border’s working.”
“Republicans are trying to turn this into a narrative of ‘Oh, the border isn’t working,” she continued.
“They’re not slipping through holes on the border,” Kohn concluded. “It’s just not happening.”
That is a bizarrely unfounded position to hold, and it was one that New York Times’ conservative columnist Ross Douthat confoundingly did not push back against.
So, let’s turn to that beacon of conservative thought, Alexandra Pelosi, for a brief rebuttal. In her recent documentary, Pelosi chronicled how human traffickers move women and children to the border and hustle them over fences and walls with simple devices like ladders. This, it would seem, counters Kohn’s assertion that there are no “holes on the border.”
Moreover, Kohn’s claim that these people are being caught after crossing is also something Pelosi addressed in her documentary. In interviews with countless, desperate immigrants, she learned that most believe that they are finally safe when they are picked up by border enforcement authorities. Pelosi said, in fact, that most border crossers simply wait to be picked up after they have made it across, believing falsely that they will be processed and sent to California or Texas to integrate into American society.
“I worry, in all of this, that we could be facilitating human trafficking,” Pelosi fretted in a recent interview on MSNBC.
But one does not need to appeal to the empirical experience of Pelosi’s immigration documentary to rebut Kohn’s claim that the border is, in fact, secure. The logic of the fact that, as she conceded, America’s processing facilities are being overwhelmed by waves of illegal immigrants suggests they got here… somehow.
UPDATE: Kohn recently took to twitter to clarify her thought:
It is NOT an "immigration border crisis" but a "child refugee crisis." And I regret not having made distinction until now.
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) July 9, 2014
To which New York Post columnist Robert George replied:
Can be both. MT @sallykohn: It's NOT "immigration border crisis" but a "child refugee crisis." Regret not having made distinction until now.
— Robert A. George (@RobGeorge) July 9, 2014