Border crisis is just that

Just a quick update this week on a couple of items.

First, the House passed one more funding bill this week. We’ve completed work on six out of 12 at this point.

I would suggest calling your senators to ask how they’re coming along, but my guess is you already know the answer.

Inter-branch lawsuit

Also of note - the House vs. Executive Branch lawsuit is moving forward as anticipated and we should be considering the actual details of it next week. Stay tuned for that.

The deal with the border crisis

In the meantime, I wanted to give you a quick update on where things stand with the border crisis.

The short version - we’ve caught tens of thousands of minors coming across the border. We've crammed them briefly into detention facilities, military bases and so forth and then released them out into the country with some distant future court date we hope they show up for. Health and legal concerns are serious and there is no end in sight.

By the end of the year, experts are projecting a full 90,000 minors to be apprehended while trying to come across the border. The President has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the problem. He has sketched out his request in fairly broad terms, but key pieces of it keep changing.

The border background

To understand the background, you have to go back to 2008 when Congress passed a bill to combat human trafficking.

The bill said that, unlike Mexico and Canada, going forward, any minor who is interdicted coming into the country illegally will be turned over to Health and Human Services and at some point have an individual day in court to determine whether they have been victims or have come here of their own accord.

The normal process (and still the current process as far as Mexican and Canadian immigrants are concerned) is that unless the immigrant can convince Border Patrol that they have a legitimate fear of persecution back home, anybody attempting to enter the country illegally can be expeditiously turned around and sent back from whence they came.

The President requested that Congress modify that old 2008 law to provide Customs and Border Patrol the flexibility to process this massive wave of undocumented immigrants in a timely fashion.

At the time, he requested about $2 billion in emergency funding. Then he got criticized by immigration activists and changed his mind about the need for increased flexibility. He doesn’t want the flexibility anymore.

And … by the way … he’s going to need $3.7 billion in emergency funds now, because even though he says, “most” will be returned to their country of origin, he’s pretty sure they’re going to be staying for a while. The administration also wants to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars taking out ads in Central American newspapers saying there will be no amnesty for children entering the country illegally, while simultaneously granting de facto amnesty to the very same kids he is trying to dissuade from coming.

In the middle of a national crisis, this isn’t exactly the lead-from-behind approach you are looking for from your chief executive: Concrete plans to address the crisis turned out to be unpopular, so … abandon the plan. Double down on actions that led to the crisis in the first place. Hope crisis goes away and/or nobody notices when it doesn’t …

Bipartisan faith eroding

There is a reason that both sides have lost faith in the President’s ability to address the major problems facing this nation.

And he doesn’t help himself in that regard here.

He just flew all the way to Texas this week, but doesn’t bother to go to the border to sit and listen to the actual border agents on the ground. He goes to a Democrat fundraiser and mingles with millionaires, instead.

He asks for nearly $4 billion in emergency funding and wants Congress to overlook his double-speak and trust him to spend the no-strings money wisely. That’s not the way it works. And that’s not the way it should work.

The House and Senate are frankly pretty well divided on what to do. It’s not just a partisan split. It’s more complicated than that.

For me, I don’t trust the President’s intentions, his competence, or his ability to select a strategy based on anything but his weekly polling numbers. Basically, I just don’t trust him.

And to be blunt about it, I’m not signing off on giving away billions worth of other people’s money on a slim hope that somebody who’s proven himself unreliable is going to do something different this time. But that’s just me.

We need strings, and enforceable benchmarks and measures for success. “Hope” doesn’t cut it. But as always, I’m interested to hear what you all think. If you have a minute, visit the website and drop me a line.

Rich Nugent (R), Brooksville
Member of Congress,11th Congressional District