Did you know that 560 people wrote in David Ortiz for mayor in the last election? After reading this, my children and I had a long conversation about who is allowed to serve as President, noting that Big Papi could be written in but could not serve because he was born in the Dominican Republic. My thoughts turned to all the other people who could not serve and I was reminded that today, tens of thousands of children are living in limbo because of the hubris of our American president.
The way things are going for President Obama, he will be lucky to leave the White House with the dignity that was afforded Richard Nixon. The latest blow to the administration has been its appalling bungling of the migration of tens of thousands of undocumented children into the United States.
While it’s been front page news around the country in recent weeks, the surge of undocumented children, most of them teens, has been going on for more than a year. Unlike what some conspiracy theorists are saying, this is a humanitarian crisis and the majority of these children are fleeing poverty and unspeakable violence in their home countries — they are runaways and many of them are candidates for asylum. Sadly, they were inspired to make the dangerous journey north with the knowledge that they could slip across our weak border and that if they were caught, there would be few repercussions. Much of the surge began after President Obama announced during his reelection bid that the U.S. would stop deporting certain undocumented children living in the United States. I’m not sure what was lost in translation, but clearly some viewed it as a opening to head north.
Immigration reform has been a front-and-center issue for several years, but partisan feuding (and there is plenty of blame to go around) has prevented anything from getting done. The Obama administration has refused to budge towards the middle and now — with a humanitarian crisis on his watch — the President is in the unenviable position of having to beg Congress for the money to handle a problem that he has been trying to sweep under the rug for many months. Recent news stories reveal that the White House was warned in 2012 about the high number of children coming across the border, but the administration did little to acknowledge the crisis until it began looking for places to house these children around the country when facilities in border states were overloaded.
Justifiably many governors, including Democrats, have told President Obama publicly and privately that their states cannot afford to take on the burden of housing and caring for thousands of parentless children. Controlling immigration and processing those that cross into this country — even to seek amnesty — is the responsibility of the federal government and falls to a system that needs to be reformed.
While the Obama administration has surfed through many scandals, I think this is the one that may damage his legacy. Hiding a humanitarian crisis at one’s border for political reasons is something a third world dictator would condone — not a U.S. President. There’s time to turn the tide by showing some decisive leadership, but the clock is ticking.
Cara Cromwell is a public affairs consultant with more than twenty years experience managing issues campaigns for corporations, non-profits, associations, coalitions and candidates on both sides of the aisle. Visit her blog, Straight Up The Middle, at straightupthemiddle.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter @cmcromwell.