The surge of unaccompanied migrant children (UAC) that dominated the news cycle in June and July of this year has receded – so much so that many emergency shelters established to handle the inflow are shutting down. At the height of the surge, many commentators and government officials expected 90,000 UAC to be apprehended by the end of the fiscal year (FY). As the end of the FY approaches, the number of apprehended UAC stands at roughly 66,000 - far below the estimates.
Now that the surge has receded, here are some of the most absurd overreactions to it. Never before have so many commentators been so angry over so few migrants.
1. U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) quoted in “POLITIFACT: Deadly viruses part of border crisis?” Tampa Bay Times (July 29).
Rep. Gingrey said: “Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.” [Emphasis added]
Ebola is a terrifying virus and a recent outbreak in West Africa shared the headlines with the surge in UAC, but that doesn’t mean the two events are linked. Rep. Gingrey’s office indicated that he heard about child migrants carrying Ebola from border agents. The rest of us are still waiting to hear about it.
2. Mackubin Thomas Owens, “Camp of the Saints, 2014 Style?” National Review Online (June 13).
Apparently the terrible consequences of an influx of child migrants, which was only equal to about 6 percent of the total number of legal immigrants admitted this year, was predicted by a controversial 1973 French novel entitled The Camp of the Saints – which described the end of Western Civilization due to an influx of third-world immigrants.
Owens’ comments reveal a Western tradition that should be abandoned – that every small issue signals the downfall of Western Civilization.
3. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, “SOUTHCOM chief: Central America drug war a fire threat to U.S. national security,” Military Times (July 8).
“In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and illegal alien flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance. Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.” [Emphasis added]
There are certainly national security challenges that accompany America’s disastrous prosecution of the war on drugs and there is a security component to regulating immigration. But it is quite a leap to go from pointing out problems that could potentially get worse to then stating they are “existential.”
4. Allen West, “Aliens coming to your neighborhood? White House secretly dispersing illegal immigrants around the country,” allenbwest.com (July 14).
Former Representative Allen West (R-FL) claims that hundreds of UAC are being resettled in places like Nebraska as part of a left-wing plot to change demographics in those places:
“Nebraska is another red state — could it be the liberal progressive objective is to begin altering the demographics there as well?”
West then lists lots of other places where UAC were being settled – in red and blue states alike.
5. Dinesh D’Souza, “Manipulation by Obama Caused U.S. border Crisis – Dinesh D’Souza,” Interview with USAWatchdog.com, (August 6).
Dinesh D’Souza cites Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals as the inspiration for a cynical Obama Administration ploy to cause the border crisis to convince Americans to embrace his agenda. D’Souza said:
I think the border crisis is a pure Alinsky type of move. Here’s what I mean by that. Alinsky’s strategy was always to take people of good will and put them into an impossible situation. At one point in his book, he talks about exploiting the innocence and decency of the American middle class. We don’t like to say no to people who show up with outstretched arms. They’re hungry, they’re sick, they need inoculations. So, Obama’s point is how do I manipulate the goodness of the American people to put them in an impossible position? Well, simply put out the word on the other side of the border that we are not that serious about enforcing the immigration laws. Moreover, we are trying to get amnesty for lawbreakers already in this country. Pretty soon, half the world shows up, and Obama throws up his hands and pretends, oh gee, how did they all come here? I don’t blame them. I blame the cynicism and manipulation of the Obama Administration which has manufactured, to a large degree, this crisis.[Emphasis added]
So, President Obama uses the cynical logic of Alinsky’s Rules for Radical to cause the surge in UAC to support his political agenda … but didn’t foresee the disastrously negative political consequences such a surge would have for him, his party, and the prospects for immigration reform? D’Souza’s claim doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Overreactions of this caliber are the norm for other policy debates too. Holding people to this standard is a small way to address this chronic annoyance.