E. J. Dionne writes about the situation unfolding on our border:
Let’s stipulate: This is a difficult problem. Unless the United States is willing to open its borders to all comers — a goal of only the purest libertarians and a very few liberals — we will face agonizing choices about whom to let in and whom to turn away.
Moreover, it’s clearly true, as The Post editorialized, that “there is nothing humanitarian in tacitly encouraging tens of thousands of children to risk their lives, often at the hands of cutthroat smugglers, to enter this country illegally.”
But instead of dealing with this problem in a thoughtful way reflecting shared responsibility across party lines, President Obama’s critics quickly turned to the business of — if I may quote Beck — seeking political gain.
I think we need to stipulate a few more things. First, exploiting this crisis to seek comprehensive immigration reform rather than being content to address the problem at hand is baldfaced seeking of political gain.
Second, Mr. Dionne proposes no solutions. It’s easy to avoid politicizing a crisis when you don’t propose any solutions at all.
Third, releasing these kids onto American streets or into the hands of people whose identity or veracity we have no way of verifying is no more responsible than putting them on the tops of railroad cars heading north.
Mr. Dionne concludes:
All the pressure now is to change the Wilberforce Act so it would no longer apply to Central American children. There’s a strong logic to this. The law does create a powerful incentive for unaccompanied minors from Central America (which is not that much farther away than Mexico) to seek entry, en masse, to our country.
But there is another logic: that the anti-trafficking law really did embody a “good” instinct by holding that we should, as much as we can, treat immigrant children with special concern. Do we rush to repeal that commitment the moment it becomes inconvenient? Or should we first seek other ways to solve the problem? Yes, policymakers should be mindful of unintended consequences. But all of us should ponder the cost of politically convenient indifference.
The problem here is that good intentions are not enough to make good laws. Again, Mr. Dionne is silent on what should be done.
I’ll repeat my prescription. First, deal with the humanitarian crisis. Give the kids shelter, food, clothing, and medical care as appropriate and do it as close to the border as possible. We should be spending our money on food rather than air fare. Concurrently with that, amend the law. At the very least provide for expedited hearing procedures.
The third prong of our solution should be bilateral negotiations with Mexico and the countries of origins of these young people. The mass immigration could not occur without their tacit consent. Repatriation into a safe environment is IMO the optimal solution. Efforts that don’t point in that direction are seeking something less than optimal.