GOP Pushes for a Restraining Border
There will be no easing into the July 4th holiday for this Congress. The House and Senate are a hive of activity, thanks to the media’s delayed reaction to a four-year-old immigration policy. Suddenly, a problem that’s been bubbling over since the Obama administration has exploded into a messy political fight that’s finally forcing both sides to the table on an issue that’s been crying out for Washington’s attention for almost two decades. Now, it’s up to Democrats to decide which is more important: scoring points in the midterm elections, or fixing our broken immigration system.
After Wednesday’s executive order by President Trump, the answer was obvious. The real beef of the Left isn’t family separation. If it was, Wednesday’s action to stop it would have satisfied it. Instead, we learn the truth: Democrats’ real issue with the policy isn’t that our government separates families but that it detains them at all. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the Republicans fighting for an overhaul of the immigration system, is starting to understand exactly what the GOP is up against. “Based on Senate speeches Democrat position is: Don’t detain children,” he tweeted. “Don’t detain their parents either so we don’t separate families & Don’t deport them if they fail to appear for subsequent hearing. So basically if you enter unlawfully with children we won’t enforce the law?”
As my guest, forensic expert Dr. Lori Baker, told me on “Washington Watch,” if we truly care about these children and the persecuted families from Central America, the last thing America should do is stop enforcing the law. That only encourages more of them to embark on a journey that could kill them. She’s spent the better part of 16 years collecting the remains of people who didn’t survive the border crossing and knows firsthand how treacherous entering the country illegally can be. For more than a decade and a half, it’s been her heart’s work to use DNA testing to reunite the victims’ remains with their families.
In summertime, in some of the areas where I’ve worked, we have two or three cases a day, where we’re going out and recovering individuals. So [the deaths] are constant, especially when it’s very hot outside. We see a lot of people crossing in the summer, and it’s just very dangerous… We have traffickers who aren’t honest with people about what they’re going to face, so people aren’t prepared. They get left behind. And many of these deaths are happening in rural areas like Texas where we don’t have medical examiners offices, so there’s no investigation … [and] what’s really disturbing to me is that some of these cases are homicides.
If America continues down this path, we’re only creating an incentive for more people to take their lives in their hands. What’s humanitarian about that? As even Barack Obama said in a 2014 interview with ABC, “Our message absolutely is don’t send your children unaccompanied on trains or through a bunch of smugglers. That is our direct message to families in Central America. ‘Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.’” Unfortunately, 10,000 of the 12,000 children in custody are the unaccompanied victims of parents who didn’t listen — and a system that didn’t work hard enough to deter them.
Americans desperately want to help these families, but there is a way to show compassion while still upholding the rule of law. This isn’t an either/or proposition. That said, the problem is a complicated one. There are worsening conditions in Central America brought on by the countries’ corruption and socialistic policies. Dr. Baker talked about that too. “The underlying problem is instability in Latin America. People cannot live in their homeland any longer, because of the violence. We have some of the highest murder rates in places like El Salvador and Honduras of nations that are not at war. The number of homicides happening there is so outrageously high, and there’s no rule of law. People are going to keep coming until there’s stability.”
So there’s a foreign policy component that will encourage growth and stability in the countries to our south, but there’s also our broken immigration system and disregard for the rule of law. These elements — combined with the lax enforcement under the previous administration — brought about this crisis. So yes, we want to be compassionate, and we also have to be logical and reasonable — not just for America’s sake but for the sake of these children, many of whom are being smuggled across dangerous terrain by traffickers who aren’t even their parents. Just in the last couple of years, there’s been a 315% spike in adults claiming kids at the border who were not theirs.
That’s because, as Dr. Baker points out, “it’s very difficult to seek asylum if you’re an adult man. But if you’re an adult man traveling with a child, you have a better chance of being granted asylum. So what we’ve seen are these men coercing these children into saying that this is their father. We need to verify what’s going on.” That’s where DNA testing like hers comes into play. In a matter of 48 hours, U.S. officials could have conclusive evidence that would help them make better decisions about how to care for these kids.
In the meantime, the executive order (which a large majority of Hispanic Americans support) was just the beginning. America and the world desperately need Congress to cooperate on an immigration policy that’s just, fair, family friendly, and enforceable. “We’re going to keep families together,” the president promised, “but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want.”
Originally published here.
GOP Gets a Second Opinion on Health Care
Until immigration grabbed Congress’s attention, House members were busily putting the finishing touches on a new budget plan. In it, conservatives map out a way to slash $302 billion over the next 10 years. But it could also be the blueprint to cutting something just as important: Obamacare.
“For the first time in a long time, we’re going to try to move this narrative back to the mandatory side of spending,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) told reporters. And when they do, Republicans will have the tools they need to take another crack at toppling the country’s failure of a health care law. As part of the budget draft, the two committees that oversee the bulk of Obamacare (Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce) are writing reconciliation instructions into the plan. “In a win for many conservatives, the House budget would also leave an opening for repealing and replacing Obamacare through the separate fast-track process of budget reconciliation.”
Most Americans got acquainted with the process of reconciliation last summer, when Republicans used it to try to dismantle Obama’s health care law with 51 votes instead of the usual 60. Thanks to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) last-minute defection, it failed. Now, some GOP members are back at the drawing board, looking for another opportunity to tackle the multitrillion-dollar mistake. While some Republicans may not have the stomach for it after August’s embarrassment, conservative groups are urging them to get on board and finish the job they started.
When they do, former senator Rick Santorum, The Heritage Foundation, and Galen Institute are giving them a ready-made replacement. Wednesday at the Hudson Institute, joined by governors like Phil Bryant (R-MS) and Matt Bevin (R-KY), several conservative leaders unveiled a plan that would give states more authority in their health care.
“After efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare fell short last year, many in Congress seem resigned to accepting the status quo or even willing to bail out and prop up the program,” they point out. “But Obamacare is broken, can’t be fixed, and continues to do great harm.”
The goal of this coalition, which includes FRC, explains:
Our plan recognizes that what works in Massachusetts will not work in Mississippi or Missouri or Montana. What works in big cities will not work in rural areas. In response, we would provide states with greater flexibility and new resources to serve as stewards in returning freedom and choice over health decisions to patients. Dollars would flow not to insurance companies, but to the states through block grants that would replace Obamacare’s payments to insurers. With new flexibility, states could use the money to:
Lower premiums and stabilize turbulent health insurance markets.
Improve choices and encourage wider coverage for all by creating innovative coverage options.
Allow recipients to use their government assistance to buy a private health plan of their choice.
Protect the vulnerable by helping those with pre-existing conditions without making coverage so costly for the young and healthy.
The idea is to turn the Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion into block grants for states to spend on covering their residents. “The idea,” as the Washington Examiner breaks it down, “is to provide enough flexibility so that states can tailor policies to fit the needs of their individual populations as opposed to having the federal government implement the same policies on the nation as a whole.” And it would do all of this without forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for plans that cover abortion. Even better, the effort gives pro-lifers another chance to end the forced partnership between taxpayers and abortionists like Planned Parenthood.
The number one issue voters wanted their elected leaders to address this year was the high cost of health care. GOP leaders would be wise to listen to them now instead of in November when it’s too late!
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.