As legislators on the Hill draw up a bill to meet President Obama’s request for emergency funds to deal with the immigration disaster on our borders, Republicans leaders are demanding that any measure includes a rewriting of a 2008 law that requires unaccompanied minors coming over the border to be placed with sponsors in the United States. President Obama, in asking for the money, seemed to indicate that he would like some additional flexibility on sending the children back to their country of origin in order to discourage parents from sending their children on the dangerous journey in the first place.But Senate Democrats seem to be digging in their heels in opposition. The WSJ:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said he opposed one proposal to more quickly return children to their home countries, and suggested the administration didn’t need congressional action for the authority it has requested. But he was noncommittal about what Democrats eventually would bring to the floor. “Our number-one concern should be this narrow issue of how we take care of this situation we have on the border,” he said.Mr. Reid cautioned fellow Democrats at a closed-door luncheon Tuesday to avoid reaching any final decision until they are briefed by administration officials Wednesday. But that didn’t stop some senators from expressing their concerns.“They shouldn’t be brought to our borders to start with, and that’s not going to change just because we expedite their return to their host country or protective services,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), adding that the government should focus its resources on what’s leading tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors to flee their countries.
We think the Senate Democrats are quite wrong on this matter, and we hope that the Obama Administration plans to bring them around. The perverse incentives created by the 2008 law may not be the only factor causing this nightmarish scenario to play out as it has, but it’s certainly a very important one. Our immigration policy is broken in many ways, and we really should be striving for a comprehensive fix. But the fix won’t come in one fell swoop, and sequencing matters a lot in this case. Reducing these perverse incentives seems like the smart first step.