GOP leaders’ reactions to U.S. border crossing issues sound ignorant

EL DIARIO OUT; JUAREZ; MEXICO OUT; IF USE ON LAM OR LAT; AND EL DIARIO DE EL PASO OUTAP Photo A young Juarez, Mexico boy peeks through the border fence into Sunland Park, New Mexico as Border Patrol vehicles pass by.

The ignorance was appalling and the bad faith shocking. And those are two very good reasons why the tragedy of the unaccompanied children pouring over the border cannot be resolved.

I am talking about what is going on in Congress, and if you think you’ve heard it all in relation to immigration, just wait until you hear the proposals of some GOP House members during the first day of a Homeland Security committee hearing Tuesday.

“Why aren’t we putting them on a bus like we normally do and send them back down to Guatemala?” Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers asked about the thousands of boys and girls being held in detention facilities. Send them all to Guatemala, right? Who cares…The man is not only mean — we are talking about children, for goodness sake — but completely ignorant that the law doesn’t allow minors to be deported right away but mandates they be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Then there is the proposal from the committee’s vice chair, Candice Miller (R-Mich.), to cut ties with Latin America:

“…No more financial assistance from the U.S. to the Centrals that are shipping their children here illegally and we need to reopen, reexamine, and perhaps repeal both NAFTA, which is the North American Free Trade Agreement, and I think we need to do the same with CAFTA, which is the Central America Free Trade Agreement,” said Miller, wanting to take matters a little too far, probably because she has no idea of what she is talking about. Amazingly she believes that international trade agreements that produce $ 17 trillion worth of goods and services are foreign aid.

Wait, there is more.

Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the committee’s chair, doesn’t seem to realize that our southern neighbor is a sovereign nation. “If we can close the southern border in Mexico, that would solve 99% of our problems,” he said. OK, Mr. McCaul, how are “we” going to do that? Sending the Marines perhaps?

Yet, while those ideas were plainly stupid, one by Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) was dripping bad faith. The House grand inquisitor wants Dreamers deportations to start again and is asking House Republicans to sign a letter demanding that President Obama end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that allows eligible young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. The GOP-controlled committee blamed DACA for the crisis at the border. It doesn’t matter to them that anyone who entered the country after June 15, 2007, is ineligible for DACA.

In fact, we all should wish the explanation for the children’s exodus was that easy — and that painless.

The truth is that Central America is exploding with poverty and hopelessness caused in large measure by Washington’s history of bullying those countries by invading them, overthrowing democratic governments and financing devastating armed conflicts. The worst of it all is the violence from murderous gangs and drug cartels fueled by the multibillion-dollar illegal drug market in the U.S.

And no, Obama’s supposedly permissive immigration policy is not the reason why the children are coming over. They don’t come pursuing some version of the American Dream. These kids are running for their lives, and as long as conditions don’t change in their countries they will keep coming because they have no other choice.

No matter what Issa and his ilk say, this humanitarian tragedy is not a domestic policy problem but a foreign policy one. It will not be resolved until Washington accepts its responsibility and begins to do the only decent thing: Investing on repairing some of the terrible damage done to those nations over the years, instead of spending billions on unfair and useless repressive measures.

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