If you still cared about Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign — and I realize that’s not all or even many of you — you’re probably focused on the memes surrounding his ill-considered decision to slip into Spanish-speaking mode during Wednesday night’s debate.
However, that was a mere embarrassment. What O’Rourke was busy doing a day earlier on Twitter was an absolute outrage.
You’ve probably seen the tragic photo: A father and his daughter, drowned in the Rio Grande, apparently as they tried to cross. The photo was shot by Julia Le Duc and was originally published by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
“According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria,” The Associated Press reported.
“He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.”
This is an unspeakable tragedy and one with multifarious causes.
For O’Rourke, however, the cause was simple, straightforward, and exactly what you might expect from a candidate denuded of all nuance — if indeed he ever possessed it. (We warn you that his tweet contains the photograph in question, which might be disturbing to some readers.)
Trump is responsible for these deaths. https://t.co/UZirFjh3fm
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) June 26, 2019
And there you have it: “Trump is responsible for these deaths.” He did go into further detail in a response, which was still profoundly unconvincing:
As his administration refuses to follow our laws — preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry — they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) June 26, 2019
What O’Rourke is talking about is the Migrant Protection Protocols — commonly known as “Remain in Mexico” — which requires individuals who seek asylum at certain ports of entry to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed.
This is to prevent two things, neither of which is desirable.
First, if the individuals were detained, we would see an even greater degree of overcrowding in detention centers than we’ve already witnessed.
Second, they could be allowed to remain free in the United States with a sponsor family while they awaited their hearing. This, of course, would create perverse incentives to claim asylum and not show up for hearings, so the illegal immigrants could instead remain in the United States indefinitely.
Whatever the case, “Remain in Mexico” is infinitely better than a father drowning with his daughter in a river in a dangerous attempt to enter the United States illegally. And this, unfortunately, is another perverse incentive we’ve created with lax border security.
Since President Donald Trump took office, the Democrats have blocked almost any attempt at meaningful border security improvements, particularly the president’s wall initiative. If they aren’t for open borders, what they’ve made clear is that they’re more than willing to stymie any attempt to enforce our borders — at least as long as Donald J. Trump is behind it.
That’s what makes individuals like Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez attempt to cross inhospitable deserts, often with the aid of human traffickers and criminal cartels. It’s what makes them attempt to cross the Rio Grande with a young child.
We obviously need to discuss solutions to the border crisis. Whatever the case, however, this isn’t Trump’s fault. He didn’t force anyone to make terrible decisions. He didn’t force anyone to break the law. He didn’t drown either of these individuals.
The president himself, you may not be surprised to know, blamed the Democrats for the death. His logic, at least I would posit, was a bit more developed than Beto’s.
“I hate it, and it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the laws. And that father who was probably a wonderful guy with his daughter, things like that wouldn’t happen,” Trump said as he was leaving for the G-20 summit in Japan, according to the New York Post.
“That journey across that river is a dangerous journey. Going across the Rio Grande is very, very dangerous, depending on the time of year and the conditions and the rapidity of the water.
“And we know that, we have many, many guards there, people go through the guards. If we had the right laws, that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people wouldn’t be coming up, they wouldn’t be trying.”
If Beto and the Democrats truly want this to stop, they’d get behind effective border control. Instead, Beto and the others are using the death of this father and this young girl for their own political advantage.
Beto’s clubfooted attempts to speak Spanish may be the headline on Thursday morning, but we ought to be paying attention to this — a far more insidious attempt at manipulating Latino voters.
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