Obama is often criticized for refusing to enforce laws. But this time he’s being criticized for enforcing the 2008 Act of Congress that requires that unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada be given special treatment.

However, the bill in question—the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008—dealt with a very different set of circumstances and was never envisioned as applying to what’s happening now.

As its name suggests, it was aimed at stopping human trafficking, and only a small part of the law dealt with unaccompanied minors from other countries, and even that portion was written in the context of the children being presumed human trafficking victims.

Back when the law was passed, there were no hordes of unaccompanied minors coming here from Central America in an attempt to gain entry on rumored promises of amnesty.

Obama is also very inconsistent about his enforcement. He ignores the laws he doesn’t like, or changes them, but with those that suit his purpose he falls back on the idea that he simply must obey the law. It’s his intentionally selective enforcement that’s the problem. In particular, if Obama enforced the laws on border security, Wilberforce wouldn’t have become such a problem in the first place.

Concerning Wilberforce, Charles Lane invokes the law of unintended consequences, legislative version:

So, here we are: The Wilberforce Act, logical and humane on paper, has been overthrown by an influx of Central American kids…

This isn’t anyone’s idea of sustainable immigration; at least it shouldn’t be. Some call the situation a humanitarian crisis. I prefer “national scandal.”…

Yet the key is to fix the Wilberforce Act: to permit prompt exclusion of unaccompanied Central American minors, as is already the case for Mexicans and (far less frequently) Canadians.

Sounds simple, right? Seems like everyone should get behind this, right? Wrong. That’s much too reasonable.

It will be very interesting to see whether the House manages to pass some sort of revision to Wilburforce, making the new arrivals subject to quicker deportation:

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the working group’s leader, will argue that child immigrants from Central America should be subject to the same rules as those from Mexico. A source close to Granger said the group will also advise that National Guard troops be sent to the border, a longstanding demand from Republicans.

It’s not even clear that the GOP would support such a bill, although it seems eminently sensible.

And even if it were to somehow be passed, it’s hard to imagine Harry Reid allowing the bill to come to a vote in the Senate. And then, if by some incredible happenstance it did get through the Senate, and such an act reached Obama’s desk for signing, he would be faced with quite a dilemma. Would he veto a bill most of America desperately wants? Or would he sign it and turn his back on the left of his party, as well as his own plans for America’s future and an entrenched Democratic majority? I know which one I’d put my money on.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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