We’ve seen nearly 60,000 immigrants come into the United States, most of them children, fleeing violence from their own country. As literal holding pens have been filled to bursting, Americans have been clamoring for their elected officials to do something, anything, to try to address this crisis. Instead, Congress is heading into a month long vacation.
The latest effort to attempt to create some sort of game plan for dealing with the continuing refugee influx was scuttled once more, as Tea Party factions in the House managed to kill a proposal that would have provided aid to deal with the ongoing situation on the border. Although the new bill was supported by many on both sides of the aisle, it was blocked by a group of far right Tea Party Republicans, organized by GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
The bill being proposed would have provided some financial resources to agencies working to meet the needs of those coming over the border. But Cruz met with some of the most virulently anti-immigration House members prior to the vote, where reportedly he helped them plot “ways to limit the president’s future authority on executive immigration decisions,” according to CBS News.
Cruz’s efforts to derail any legislation worked. “[W]ith weak conservative support for the $659 million border bill, GOP leaders agreed late Wednesday to schedule a second vote on legislation to block Obama from extending deportation relief to more immigrants here illegally, beyond the 500,000 that have already benefited from a program he created,” reports the Associated Press. “That seemed to win over some lawmakers by Thursday morning, but as the day progressed conservative lawmakers and outside groups declared the measure insufficient. Then, just before the vote on the border bill was to begin, there was an unexplained pause in action on the House floor, and suddenly the reading clerk called up an unrelated highway bill instead.” A Friday vote could make it through the House, but would be mostly symbolic since it would offer no real support and the Senate won’t be around to pass it, too.
“The Obama White House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll,” Republican Congressman Peter King of New York told the Washington Post. “We have a chance to pass a good bill, not a perfect bill. Boehner is working hard to get to 218 votes and yet there is Ted Cruz, telling us to do nothing. If he wants to come over and run for speaker, that’s fine, but otherwise he should stay over there in the Senate.”
At issue is whether any amnesty should be offered to those coming across the border, or if undocumented immigrants found in the country should be subject to immediate deportation. The Tea Party is of the “deport now” camp, and will make that a key for any upcoming vote. This despite the violence these immigrants, most of them minors, face not just at home, but to get to the U.S. itself. “Unlike in previous years (when child migrants were overwhelmingly male and mostly older), nearly half of the incoming children are girls, according to the Women’s Refugee Commission, and they are getting increasingly younger,” writes one former immigrant in The Guardian. “Worse, advocates are finding that many are pregnant as a result of being raped in their home countries or on the way to the US border.”
The fact that congress is getting nowhere is sad. The fact that some Americans have decided they will take matters into their own hands is frightening. According to Raw Story, “At least 10 armed private militias have now been spotted patrolling the Texas border in response to a crisis of refugee children fleeing violence in Central America.” Yes, people with guns have allegedly been recruited by groups such as Oathkeepers and other militia types into doing their own “border patrols,” and one man who is said to be involved in the effort once made a video on how to keep “illegals” out of the country. “How?” he asked. “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”
Congress won’t take action. Gun toting self proclaimed border patrol won’t stop taking action. If the goal is to make the U.S. too dangerous for people to want to enter, it appears to be working.
Photo credit: Thinkstock