By: Nativo Vigil Lopez ©
July 1, 2014 – Los Angeles, California
James Russell Lowell wrote in 1870, “All our mistakes sooner or later surely come home to roost.” The older fuller form was curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost, meaning that your offensive words or actions are likely at some point to rebound on you. And, the offensive actions of President Barack Obama over the past six years in terms of mass deportations, prolonged incarcerations, streamlined removals, and border and interior immigration enforcement, have certainly come back to haunt him, his administration, and the U.S. Congress.
The current humanitarian crisis of the explosive number of unaccompanied minors on the U.S. southern border, at last count 52,000, but increasing daily, is no mere accident. Over the past two years the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has tracked the incremental increase of minors attempting to cross the border, over two-thirds from Central American countries and the remaining one-third from Mexico. For example, DHS was aware that more than 25,000 minors arrived unaccompanied at the U.S. border seeking entry in 2013. Aside from doing nothing to address the underlying causes of this refugee exodus – failing states and collapsing economies in a region where the U.S. has historically meddled economically and militarily – it is a crisis that could easily have been anticipated and prepared for and not presented by the corporate media and the administration to the public as a sudden unexpected occurrence. And, yet, without seeming insensitive to the plight of tens of thousands of children and youngsters, this situation is symptomatic of a deeper systematic catastrophe.
Record deportations, now exceeding 2 million, have resulted in devastating and near unprecedented separation of families; twenty-five percent of the deported are reported to have U.S.-born children; and an estimated 500,000 U.S. citizen minors find themselves in Mexico as undocumented Americans obliged to accompany their deported undocumented Mexican parents. In effect, these children find themselves exiled from their birthright to a land foreign to them. The number of similarly exiled youngsters to Central American countries are unavailable, but undoubtedly also large. Additionally, 36,000 privatized jail beds are permanently filled by the migrant adult wards of the state because they are arbitrarily budgeted to be so by Congress with the complicity of the president.
The mutual acrimonious rhetoric and foot-dragging between the Democrats and Republicans related to “comprehensive immigration reform” has come to naught as the country moves closer to November’s mid-term elections. Even the proposed legislation passed by the Senate last year, numbered S.744, is primarily enforcement laden and defers preferentially to the cheap labor demands of industry and agriculture. The brokered provisional legal status offered to the 11 million undocumented looks nothing like the generous amnesty signed into law by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Reputable legal experts estimate that less than 60 percent of the potential applicants would qualify for the tenuous status. Minimum wage earning female heads of household with children, for example, would not qualify and therefore be held deportable.
In effect, America’s immigration system is in structural and social crisis as policy-makers and legislators seek to transition away from family reunification in deference to a labor skills- based point system to legally immigrate to the U.S. Under such an immigration regime most Mexicans and Central Americans would not pass muster, although they make up the bulk of today’s undocumented population.
But, back to the unaccompanied minors – President Obama’s press conference this past Monday sought to allay fears about his capacity to deal with the challenge, demonstrate his commitment to secure the border, declare another ultimatum to Republican House members to pass immigration reform by the end of summer, and threaten use of executive action to address the system’s inadequacies in absence of legislation. He will request $2 billion from Congress immediately upon their return from the Fourth of July break to further militarize the border.
Perhaps most important is what Obama did not share with the public. He feigned to his political left with yet another promise for executive action in a placating maneuver and once again delayed the moment to walk the walk. But, he steadfastly moved to the political right with his proposed emergency allocation to secure the border and his intention to seek expedited removal of the children refugees to their countries of origin, notwithstanding the 2008 bipartisan legislation approved under his predecessor, George W., to codify due process protections of unaccompanied minors – except for Mexicans and Canadians.
Obama, the much heralded constitutional law professor and first black president of the U.S., will first have to attack the due process rights of children refugees and undo current legal protections and procedures put into place to safeguard their well-being, even if only temporarily, in order to expedite their deportation. This is the equivalent of Mexicanizing the Central American minors in that Mexican minors, being from a contiguous country, do not enjoy the same protections under the 2008 statute.
The public little acknowledges that the U.S. Constitution, especially all of the inherent protections against government abuse and overreach, applies equally to the unaccompanied minors immediately upon setting foot on American soil, as it does to the most red-bloodied American amongst us.
Shamefully, Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas (28th District) and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, both Democrats, are working feverishly behind the scenes to clear the legislative path for President Obama to meet the humanitarian crisis with more stick and not much carrot. Removal of the Bush-era due process rights and protections is the task they have accepted. However, undermining the rights of these minors has ominous implications for the rights of all U.S. citizens. It is a fatal and futile attempt to plug the proverbial dam with a finger, which will only lead to greater crises. Yes, curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost. #####
Copyright © 2014 – Nativo Vigil Lopez, advisor to Hermandad Mexicana founded in 1951.