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Central America immigration issue not that simple

More than 50,000 immigrant children, mostly from Central America, have crossed the U.S. border since last fall. President Obama hasn’t manned the border himself, welcoming these children with a firm handshake, though that’s the erroneous impression left by the president’s worst critics.

Take Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

On Sunday, the former Republican presidential candidate told ABC’s This Week news program that, in essence, Obama’s motives were suspect.

“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure.”

Perry’s not-so-veiled insinuations about the president’s concerns about U.S. border safety are either patently offensive or over-the-top political rhetoric, if not both.

Nevertheless, Obama is caught in a political vice: Republicans say Obama and his Democratic Party policies have left America’s Mexican border unprotected and its immigration guidelines soft. Some say the White House must deport the children to the homelands and send the message that immigrating illegally to the United States is a failed effort.

Others say the Obama administration can’t inhumanely send these children back into situations where violence, gangs and abuse are rampant.

Over the weekend, the president tried to quell the worst hysteria by reminding Americans that we are a nation of immigrants.

“The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life, it is in our DNA,” Obama said during a White House ceremony in which 25 foreign-born service members representing 15 countries became U.S. citizens. “From all these different strands, we make something new here in America. And that’s why, if we want to keep attracting the best and brightest from beyond our borders, we’re going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken. Pass common-sense immigration reform.”

That’s a non-starter. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has told Obama immigration legislation won’t see the light of day in Congress this fall.

So this week the president is asking Congress for $3 billion to help manage the humanitarian crisis. To those who’ve questioned Obama’s resolve for not sending these children back home as quickly as possible, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that “most” of the undocumented children would be deported. He also reminded reporters of what Republicans calling for a quick deportation often miss: that the children caught at the border must go through the U.S. legal system, which includes a deportation hearing.

In other words, it’s not as simple as putting them on a south-bound bus.

America didn’t invite these children to its borders. But its Congress has courted trouble by refusing to reform our immigration laws. If Perry and his cohorts want to assign blame, that’s where they should start.

— Anniston (Alabama) Star

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