Darrell Issa tries to exploit child crisis: The next ugly phase in immigration fight

With thousands of children streaming across the border, here's how GOP looks to capitalize on humanitarian calamity

Topics: Darrell Issa, President Obama, Barack Obama, Brian Kilmeade, Fox News Radio, Fox News, Immigration, Immigration Reform, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Eric Cantor, United Nations, Deportation, Bob Goodlatte, Editor's Picks,

Darrell Issa tries to exploit child crisis: The next ugly phase in immigration fightDarrell Issa (Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

A week ago on Brian Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio program, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa made a serious charge against President Obama: that his policies on immigration were responsible for the deaths of children.

Asked by Kilmeade about the flood of unaccompanied immigrant minors from Central America coming into the border states, Issa said:

When the president made a decision that he was not going to enforce immigration laws … he created a real magnet to pull in a great deal of new illegals, particularly children who would qualify under the president’s own executive DREAM Act. When you become all three branches of government, this is what happens. The president can’t easily reverse himself, and yet this flood is going to mean children dying trying to get in, and more important, children coming here in the anticipation that somehow they’re going to be granted citizenship.

Eric Cantor’s unexpected downfall to an anti-immigration Tea Partyer caused a lot of buzzing about the future of comprehensive immigration reform, but this is the next phase in the fight over immigration. Republicans and conservatives are trying to capitalize on the emerging humanitarian crisis caused by tens of thousands of children streaming across the southern border, arguing that this is the consequence of Obama’s lax immigration policies. Some observers see this becoming a political jam for the White House as the president weighs easing deportations through executive action, but the best thing the White House could do is ignore the politics.

First let’s take a look at everything Issa got wrong (it’s quite a lot). Per Issa, Obama created a “magnet” for undocumented minors when he announced his executive action to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children. That policy change was announced in June 2012, so if what Issa said is true, then we would expect that the surge of undocumented minors crossing the border began sometime after then. But as Vox’s Dara Lind reports, “the current surge of child migrants began in October 2011,” a full eight months before Obama’s executive action was handed down.



Also, Issa claimed that the “magnet” was particularly strong for “children who would qualify under the president’s own executive DREAM Act.” This is a curious assertion since none of the kids who migrated after Obama’s policy change was announced will benefit from it. One of the qualifications for deferred action is that you have to have been physically present in the U.S. on or before June 15, 2012.

Lastly, the notion that the rush of underage migrants is an attempt to capitalize on relaxed deportation policies is at best an oversimplification, and obscures the reason so many kids are fleeing Central America. They’re running for their lives. The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees interviewed migrant children El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico and found that “no less than 58% of the 404 children interviewed were forcibly displaced because they suffered or faced harms that indicated a potential or actual need for international protection.” National Journal’s Brian Resnick talked to one of the report’s authors, who said that only nine of the kids interviewed said anything about the U.S. giving preferential treatment to children. This picture is muddied by reports like this one from the Washington Post, which notes a growing body of anecdotal evidence that misinformation about lax deportation policies for children is widespread in the migrants’ countries of origin. Regardless, the administration is handling the situation at the border as a humanitarian crisis and Obama has ordered FEMA and Homeland Security to help alleviate the crowding at detention facilities.

So the crisis at the border is real and calamitous, but the best evidence available suggests that it is largely due to factors other than immigration policies in the U.S. But that’s not the story Republicans want to tell. “Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a June 2 statement.

The administration has indicated that it will take further action to ease deportations by the end of the summer if the House of Representatives doesn’t pass an immigration bill before then. Even before Eric Cantor lost his primary, every indication was that the House was not going to act and the Republicans would let the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive reform bill die. There’s no reason to think that situation has changed. By pinning the emerging humanitarian crisis at the border on Obama’s immigration policies, the Republicans are trying to cow him into not taking action.

Even if they succeed in turning this into a political problem, the best course of action for Obama to take is to simply ignore the Republicans. For all the grief he gets from the right for being soft on enforcement, the president has actually presided over record numbers of deportations, which has taken its toll both politically and in the real world. According to one study, 150,000 kids who are U.S. citizens lost a parent to deportation in 2012. All those deportations have eroded the reserve of goodwill and patience Obama enjoyed with immigration activists and Hispanic voters.

So for the president it comes down to making a choice. The Republicans, who will slag him on immigration no matter what he does, want him to abandon a policy course that they say will exacerbate a crisis involving young immigrants, even though there’s no real reason to think it would. He can do that, or he can take action to help alleviate an immigrant crisis he helped create – the breaking up of families through deportation – and mollify his restive supporters. The choice seems fairly obvious.

Simon Maloy

Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...