Like Benghazi, Obama's trying to change the subject on the Border Kids - it won't work

Jul 30, 2014
Opinion Editorial
By Rep. Lou Barletta, published on

Since the recent influx of illegal immigrants began at the southern border, we have heard the Obama administration and its allies blame the situation on people fleeing escalating violence in their home countries in Central America. 

Though the evidence gathered at the border refutes this claim, the story persists in the media and is reminiscent of similar attempts at obfuscation from the administration. 

Like the tall tale of an Internet video's involvement in the Benghazi attack, the transparent rearranging of facts leading up to a crisis is designed to blur the root causes and camouflage administration strategies and failures. 

It is now accepted as fact that the assault on the American embassy in Benghazi was a planned attack by terrorists, and not the spontaneous reaction to an obscure Internet video as the administration initially asserted. 

Obama administration officials dutifully repeated the weak claim about the video, and even went so far as to solidify the cover story by arresting and incarcerating the film's maker for parole violations related to its production. 

In the end, the narrative unraveled and was ultimately proven false by the arrest of the terrorist who had masterminded the attack.  It is clear that President Barack Obama was trying to distract Americans from his foreign policy failures in that troubled part of the world.

Like the video that absolutely did not cause an assault on an American embassy, there is always yet another false argument at the ready.

Today we are being fed a line by the Obama administration that tens of thousands of minors are streaming – illegally – into this country from Central America because they fear the rising violence in their home nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

We are also led to believe that the administration was caught by surprise by the development and has had to scramble to find a solution to the problem.  Once again, the yarn being spun comes apart with a few tugs at the strands. 

In my recent trip to the United States border with Mexico, I spoke to Border Patrol agents who conduct interviews with the individuals entering this country. 

Their experience was consistent: the huge majority of the border crossers say they came to America primarily because they believed that they would be allowed to stay if they arrived safely. 

Additionally, many of those crossing had arrived in family units, with at least one parent or guardian, and others were seeking to be reunited with relatives already inside the country illegally. 

Most had heard in their home countries that if they surrendered to the Border Patrol, they would be given a notice to appear in court, or permiso, which would essentially allow them to stay indefinitely and without fear of deportation.   

Exactly where could thousands of illegal immigrants have gotten those ideas simultaneously?  

In June 2012, President Obama used a White House Rose Garden speech to unveil his policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), under which illegal immigrants up to the age of 30 would not be deported if they claimed to have been present in the U.S. since before they were 16, among other factors. 

Such claims are taken at face value, never investigated for truthfulness, and are almost always approved.  Not surprisingly, word has spread of DACA and the promise of effective amnesty, and the result is now in evidence at our southern border.  

Not content to rely on just one smokescreen to protect itself from criticism, the administration recently has taken to blaming a 2008 law addressing human trafficking as reason for treating "refugees" differently if they come from nations not contiguous to the United States. 

While the law should be changed to treat everyone the same regardless of their country of origin, the administration has ignored the language which gives them flexibility, and is not prevented from deporting those who are not apparent victims of human trafficking. 

Finally, the notion that President Obama was caught unprepared for the border crisis is easily disproved. 

In a recent hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Secretary Jeh Johnson was unable to tell me how his agency came to solicit escorts for as many as 65,000 unaccompanied minors in an advertisement placed in January. 

Further, the Washington Post reported on July 19 that administration officials had been warned of the impending border disaster nearly a year ago, in August 2013.  That would seem to be sufficient advance warning to avoid what is now described as a surprise. 

What, then, is the motivation behind all of the diversionary tactics?  Certainly the administration actively sought to avoid culpability for the crisis, but also reported in that same Washington Post article was the concern that a public exposition of the debacle at the border would ruin chances for "comprehensive immigration reform." 

In the language of most Americans, that very simply means amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The administration knew that if its policy failures were fully on display, the public would rise in opposition to more shirking of enforcing existing immigration laws.   

Another administration ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, empathically proclaimed recently that "the border is secure," despite mountains of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. 

Sen. Reid said that because he knows that no movement on amnesty could ever occur if Americans believe that our borders remain as open as they currently are.  But like the video that absolutely did not cause an assault on an American embassy, there is always yet another false argument at the ready.    

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican, represents the 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of central Pennsylvania.

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