A couple of random thoughts about the border.
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What means “secure?” A lot of criticism directed towards the President over the current crisis at the border comes back around to either he has not “secured our border” or that before money should be directed toward HHS efforts at housing and caring for the immigrant children or to bolstering the judicial process they must be go through according to a 2008 law he must first “secure our border.”
By what measure is it not secure? Or, to put it in the context of the present crisis, what border town is overrun with these Central American children? To listen to the media, you would think these kids are spreading out from the border like those killer bee maps that once made the rounds. Yet it seems that these children are getting up to the border and basically turning themselves in. Instead of providing the money the Administration says is necessary to deal with this issue, some Congressmen are calling for the National Guard to be deployed. What are they going to do? Shoot the kids as they approach the border?
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Apparently if the President doesn’t show up at some border crossing or detention center during his current trip to Texas it will be his “Katrina moment.” Politico give some context to this charge:
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, whose Texas district is situated along the U.S.-Mexico border, said he hoped Obama’s decision not to visit the border wouldn’t be his “Katrina moment.” The congressman was referring to then-President George W. Bush’s widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush was famously photographed in the aftermath of the storm surveying the damage from above while aboard Air Force One, a photograph he called a “huge mistake” in 2010.
“In this case where there’s a crisis, a leader’s going to be defined on how he or she handles that crisis,” Cuellar said on CNN Wednesday morning. “You can send surrogates to the border, you can be 500 miles away like how he’s going to be in Dallas today, but he ought to go down there.”
I agree with the first part of that statement about crisis leadership. I do not agree with the second. Much sound and fury has been aired demanding that President Obama travel to “the border” (exactly where to see what is never specified). Only if, ONLY IF he would, obviously the Administration’s entire response to this situation would change.
How? I have no idea. I can imagine a Presidential visit would boost the morale of the men and women working at the, uh, locations he visits. Beyond that, it is unclear what positive impact a Presidential visit to one or two locations on a limited stretch of the border will have. Will the amount of time he spends on the issue change? Probably not. Will the directions he gives his Cabinet secretaries gain added urgency? Unlikely. Will his critics find something new to complain about? Undoubtedly.
There is still much to learn and apply from the mistakes made in preparing for and responding to Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps some can be applied to this situation at the border. However, I hope people will refrain from throwing around simple comparisons for political scoring sake. The men and women working their hardest to resolve this crises, at the border and throughout the country, deserve better than that.