An editorial today at National Review Online notes that word has passed through the grapevine back to Central America that women and children who infiltrate across the border are let go, and that "The only way to stanch the flow is to change such expectations." But I wonder if this administration is capable of doing what it takes. I don't mean whether the tools exist, but rather whether the decision makers are ideologically or even psychologically up to the task.
Yesterday's White House comments aren't encouraging. Spokesman Josh Earnest said "I think one thing that we can do is to be as clear as possible about the law and about what the consequences are for making a decision like that." So far, so good. But the law he wanted to be clear about was this: "Those individuals are not eligible for the deferred action, executive action that was announced a couple years ago." Cecilia Munoz, the La Raza vice president now in charge of domestic policy at the White House, made the same point: "Neither the bill which passed the Senate last year, nor the deferred action program for childhood arrivals would benefit these kids." And because this latest wave of illegals doesn't qualify for the existing or proposed amnesties, the administration position is that what we're facing is simply a refugee crisis, like that caused by an earthquake or hurricane.
But this is to willfully misunderstand what's happening. No one in Central America is poring through the 1,200 pages of the Schumer-Rubio bill or studying the memoranda establishing Obama's illegal DACA/DREAM amnesty to see if they might qualify. It's the broad signal we're sending that illegal immigrants can remain here unmolested that's driving this rush for the border. When the former head of ICE under Obama says that "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero," news of that reality travels by word of mouth and prospective illegal aliens jump at the opportunity.
I don't mean to suggest that Earnest or Munoz or others in the White House are lying. I'm confident that they really believe that their policies have nothing to do with the border deluge, because to believe otherwise would create too much cognitive dissonance. Thus the steps needed to reduce the DACA Disaster at the border – i..e, changes in the administration's permissive approach to immigration enforcement — are simply beyond them.
This suggests that the White House will try to ameliorate the situation in a way that avoids the unacceptable option of actually enforcing immigration law. That suggests a supply-side solution — pressuring Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to keep people from leaving and pressuring the Mexicans to do more to stop them from transiting their country. But this won't work; the governments there have neither the incentive nor the capacity to do our job of immigration control for us.
Which means this could get worse before it gets better.