Put yourself in the president’s shoes. He saw the border crisis building. He warned Congress. It did nothing. Now he has to do something.
Months ago, the administration alerted lawmakers that the number of people entering the country illegally and making unqualified asylum claims was skyrocketing. The only options were to stop them from crossing or let them in and release them while their bogus claims were being processed. The latter option, Congress was warned, could add another 1 million to the illegal population before the year was out.
It was, by any reasonable definition, a crisis.
The White House asked for resources to address it, but Congress didn’t deliver. This led to a government shutdown. Still, lawmakers refused to negotiate, insisting there was no crisis.
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That assertion is no longer tenable. This week, even President Barack Obama’s former secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, acknowledged “it’s a crisis.”
Leaders on both sides of the aisle should be in the Oval Office, working into the night until they hammer out a solution. That is not happening. Instead, the House leadership is considering a vote to criticize the administration.
With Congress whistling past the graveyard, what is the president to do? He must look for ways to address the overwhelming challenge with the tools at his disposal. He is already trying to build the wall, despite congressional obstructionism. But what else is possible, and how effective would those measures be?
Trump has floated four options.
1. Close the border. It would be a dramatic action, but it would not stop the flood of illegal immigrants. They aren’t crossing at the border crossings. And even if the border is officially closed, once they enter the country, their asylum claims will have to be processed all the same.
On the other hand, the threat to close the border sends an unmistakable message to Mexico. Sure, it would be economically disruptive, but so is another 1 million illegal immigrants. While closing the border would hurt the U.S. economically, it would hurt Mexico a lot more. The closure threat clearly translates in Mexico City as “do more.”
Trump has gotten Mexico to step up its cooperation in the past, and that may be part of the impetus for talking up closure now. Without knowing exactly what the administration would do and for how long, it might be best to reserve judgment. Everyone, including the president, knows that closing the border is not the final answer. For now, let’s just let the president play poker with Mexico.
2. Cut aid to Central America. As my colleague […]
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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