By now, the blinders are off:
We all agree that there’s a crisis at the southern border. The idea that this was some sort of fiction cooked up by the Republicans is gone; it’s a bit difficult to ignore a Department of Homeland Security stretched way beyond its limits, local governments feeling the same pinch as their social services are taxed by illegal immigrants being released into their communities and the specter of 1,200 arrests per day being made by the Border Patrol.
But, for those thoroughly invested in the fact that agreeing with President Donald Trump on anything, up to and including the color of the sky, is a bit like making common cause with Voldemort, there is an escape clause:
OK, they might say, there’s a crisis at the border, but we don’t need more enforcement. Let’s spend that money on processing asylum claims (the vast majority of which are specious at best, but whatever) instead of trying to protect the border.
That’s why the Democrats aren’t particularly enthused about the $4.5 billion plan to alleviate the border crisis proposed by the Trump administration.
According to The Washington Post, the proposal, sent to Congress last week, contains $3.3 billion in humanitarian aid and $1.1 billion for border operations. The plan is separate from the $8 billion the president wants for a border wall in his 2020 budget and the $6 billion in potential border wall funding from Trump’s national emergency declaration.
And yet, Democrats are keeping the escape clause alive. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said she would consider the request, but said that the possibility it could be used to expand Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities was untenable to her ears.
“The Trump administration appears to want much of this $4.5 billion emergency supplemental request to double down on cruel and ill-conceived policies, including bailing out ICE for overspending on detention beds and expanding family detention,” she said in a statement, according to The Post.
“Locking up people who pose no threat to the community for ever-longer periods of time is not a solution to the problems at the border.”
But Lowey and her liberal fellow travelers have a problem. The left’s newspaper of record doesn’t feel quite the same way about the proposal.
In an editorial published Sunday by The New York Times titled “Congress, Give Trump His Border Money,” the paper’s editorial board unsurprisingly didn’t agree with Trump’s rhetoric on the issue — “[t]here is no pressing national security threat — no invasion of murderers, drug cartels or terrorists,” it said — but The Times got behind the $4.5 billion package.
The editorial noted that “as record numbers of Central American families flee violence and poverty in their homelands, they are overwhelming United States border systems, fueling a humanitarian crisis of overcrowding, disease and chaos. The Border Patrol is now averaging 1,200 daily arrests, with many migrants arriving exhausted and sick. Last week, a teenage boy from Guatemala died in government custody, the third death of a minor since December. As resources are strained and the system buckles, the misery grows.
“Something needs to be done. Soon. Unfortunately, political gamesmanship once again threatens to hold up desperately needed resources,” the editorial continued.
“On Wednesday, the White House sent Congress a request for $4.5 billion in emergency funding to help manage the surge. In a letter to lawmakers, the acting director of the White House’s budget office, Russell Vought, sought to convey the scope of the challenge. ‘In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 76,000 illegal border crossers and inadmissible aliens, and in March that number exceeded 100,000 — the highest monthly level in more than a decade,’ Mr. Vought wrote. He described what he said were ‘alarming numbers’ of women and children jammed into Border Patrol stations never intended as long-term shelters.”
And, while The Times noted that the plan was “light on specifics,” it also noted what Vought had pointed out in the letter would be dire developments indeed: Funding for vital services running dry by the end of the year and funding for the program that deals with unaccompanied minors running out next month.
“None of the money would go toward Mr. Trump’s border wall,” the editorial continued. “Several hundred million dollars would, however, go toward shoring up border security operations, including increasing the number of detention beds overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. This, for Democrats, is a nonstarter.”
However, The Times took Democrats to task over this position — including the aforementioned Rep. Lowey — noting that the detention beds limit reached in budget negotiations late last year was a “convoluted compromise no one seemed to understand.”
Responding to Lowey’s “cruel and ill-conceived policies” remark, the editorial board noted that “until better policies are in place, Democrats need to find a way to provide money for adequate shelter.”
I don’t think I need to provide too much contextual proof to our readership that The Times isn’t a cheerleader for any border policy that comes from any corner of the GOP, particularly the corner occupied by the Trump administration.
I will provide one terminally overheated piece of rhetoric on the border wall from The Times, though, this one from opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie:
“It would stand as a lasting reminder of the white racial hostility surging through this moment in American history, a monument to this particular drive to preserve the United States as a white man’s country,” he wrote in January. “In fact, you can almost think of the wall as a modern-day Confederate monument, akin to those erected during a similar but far more virulent period of racist aggression in the first decades of the 20th century.”
I suppose I could point out all those covert neo-Confederates among the Democrat caucus who supported such a monument to “white racial hostility” until very recently, but you get the idea of what The Times will publish and where the newspaper stands as a general rule when it comes to illegal immigration.
Even the editorial board of The Times realizes the exigencies of the moment, however.
We’re all in agreement that it’s cruel to keep individuals detained in facilities simply not designed for the kind of surge in illegal immigration we’re experiencing at the moment.
It’s also not a tenable solution to release asylum seekers with little supervision, particularly when the majority of these asylum claims are baseless.
Enforcement and detention are vital policy components in attenuating this crisis, whether or not the left wants to admit to it or not.
There is no more escape clause. The New York Times realizes that.
It’s time for the Democrats to come to that realization, as well.
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