President Barack Obama, whose administration has already deported more than 2 million people since he took office, wants to send back children coming to the U.S. from Central America as soon as earthly possible.
Today, the White House made public a letter to Congressional leaders seeing additional funds to deal with the thousands of unaccompanied kids from Central America, who are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, fleeing out-of-control violence in their home countries.
The letter does not mention an actual amount, but several media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, have reported that the administration will seek "$2 billion in emergency funding" for what the president has referred to as a "humanitarian crisis."
Obama's letter also calls for giving U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, "additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador."
In a recent interview with ABC News, Obama referred to a law signed by President George W. Bush, which mandates that unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico or Canada be turned over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of detention.
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 states that HHS must then place "an unaccompanied alien child...in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child."
HHS also must ensure "safe and secure placements" for these children, either with a "suitable family member" or in foster care, while the child's case is winding its way through immigration court.
Obama kvetched about this to ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
"We have to house these kids and take care of them until the machinery, under current law, allows us to send them back," he said.
Hey, thank goodness for George W., right?
The ACLU pounced on the Obama administration's suggestion of fast-tracking the deportations of immigrant kids.
"The President is mishandling a humanitarian crisis by proposing an inadequate speedy removal process that only further jeopardizes vulnerable children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America," Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement released today.
"The U.S. has domestic and international legal obligations to asylum-seeking children, including access to an attorney," she added. "The procedures proposed for these children in crisis lack fundamental due process and deny fair treatment. It is imperative that these children receive a fair process to ensure that they are not being returned to life-threatening situations."
Also today, Obama threatened further executive action on immigration, saying that he's tired of waiting for Congress to deal with the issue.
Obama was quoted as saying that wants to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress."
Wish I could say I had any confidence in those remarks.
Meanwhile, a revived hysteria over immigration continues apace, with idiot militia-types threatening to "put up a man fence" on the border to stop migrant tykes from crossing.
"Man fence"? Isn't that a scene from Brokeback Mountain?
Locally, ignorant politicians such as Governor Jan Brewer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and just about every Republican gubernatorial candidate have been using the issue to raise money and look tough.
You know, because only a true leader knows how to stomp out this dangerous invasion of, um, children.
Online, I've been fighting with folks who think children trying to escape exploitation, poverty, gang violence and so forth, should be spurned, not assisted, by this country.
They claim they don't want their tax money used to help these kids, and to hell with what that federal statute says and the fact this issue has roots in Central American lawlessness, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
What I tell them in response is, no one ever asks me if I'm OK with my tax money going to pay for the education of other people's kids.
But I don't bitch about it. Why? Because as a society, we've agreed it's the right thing to do.
In this case, we all know what the right thing to do is: Take these children in and treat them humanely, according to the law. No fast-tracking. No simple solutions.
The 80 percent of them that DHS says may end up staying under current law?
Let them stay, Mr. President. Do not seek to change the law to allow you to do otherwise.
Don't let the shrill voices of hate, of calculating demagogues push U.S. policy.
Rather, let morality be our guide, so that America is truly the beacon of hope it always claims to be.
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