The WaPo weighs Obama's disengagement with the border crisis as well as the political crosscurrents sweeping him under:
Border crisis scrambling the politics of immigration policy
Until now, the politics of immigration have been seen as a no-lose proposition for President Obama and the Democrats. If they could get a comprehensive overhaul passed, they would win. And if Republicans blocked it, the GOP would further alienate crucial Hispanic and moderate voters.
But with the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October, that calculus may be shifting.
Republicans and even some Democrats have accused Obama of being insufficiently engaged in a calamity that many say he should have seen coming.
They highlight the politically challenging and contradictory position in which Obama finds himself (yes, that is a passive voice tribute to Obama...):
Obama’s goal now is to make clear to adults in Central America that there is no payoff for sending their children on the dangerous journey northward, said Cecilia Muñoz, the White House domestic policy director. “He feels intensely a responsibility to prevent an even greater humanitarian crisis,” she said.
Oh, stop it, you're killing me...
That, however, means speeding the deportation of most of those who have already arrived, which many in Obama’s own party are resisting.
“It is contrary to everything we stand for as a people to try to summarily send children back to death . . . in a place where drug gangs are the greatest threat to stability, rule of law and democratic institutions in this hemisphere,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said in Nashville, where the National Governors Association was meeting.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) agreed in an interview: “I would like to see him place greater emphasis on the interests of these children who are refugees from extreme violence and instability in their home countries” instead of “an acceleration of the deportation process at the expense of these children.”
So in actuality Obama has to persuade Central American parents to keep their kids at home even though they will ultimately be welcomed into the US if their parents do choose to send them north. Good luck messaging that.
The WaPo includes this passage describing an Obama meeting with immigration advocates:
Two weeks ago, with Republicans criticizing the administration’s handling of the border crisis, Obama gathered advocates for another private meeting at the White House.
The session grew heated when some of them criticized the administration’s tough posture toward the children on the border, according to several people who attended.
Marshall Fitz, immigration policy director at the Center for American Progress, said that Obama, a former community organizer, told the group that “in another life, I’d be on the other side of the table.”
Compassionate progressives are surprised:
But O’Rourke added that he has been surprised by the anger he has heard toward the immigrants from many of his El Paso constituents, who “feel like we can’t take care of everyone, and these children and their families are gaming the system.”
Gaming the system? Really?
The WaPo reminisces about Team Obama's competence:
The emergency has also renewed questions about the administration’s competence, reminiscent of those raised during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, last year’s botched rollout of the health-care law and more recent revelations of mismanagement that jeopardized care of patients at veterans hospitals.
The good news is the VA debacle is off the front page.
The WapO provides a "Where Was Obama" wrap-up:
There is also the question of whether the Obama administration ignored the signs as the emergency was developing.
As far back as May 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) warned Obama in a letter that “there is a surge of unaccompanied illegal minors entering the United States. Apart from being part of an obvious humanitarian crisis, these unaccompanied illegal minors have left the federal government scrambling to triage the results of its failed border security and immigration policies.”
At last week’s governors meeting, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) said the administration was “asleep at the switch.”
A Republican Governor can be dismissed as a partisan hack. However...
Some border-state Democrats have joined the criticism.
“The numbers have spiked recently, but this is not a new development,” said Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.). “It seems to me that the administration just wasn’t paying close attention and could have acted sooner.”
Barber noted that 30 percent of apprehensions of illegal immigrants are made in his Tucson-area district, as are up to 47 percent of cartel drug-running arrests. His constituents, who already live in fear for their safety, are now seeing law enforcement agents diverted to child care.
“They’re doing a great job, but it’s not their job, and it’s allowed the front line to be thinned even further,” Barber added.
Yet even some Democrats say Obama has not appeared to be as engaged as they would like.
When the president made a fundraising swing through Texas without going to the scene of the crisis, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) complained on MSNBC: “He can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border? Border community leaders want to see him down there on the border. And I think the optics and the substance of it is that he should show up at the border.”