With Congress gone for August, the duty of trying to stop the illegal immigrant surge on the southern border now belongs to President Obama and border governors — chiefly Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said Sunday he will move ahead with plans to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops on the border.
One top Republican warned that the border is increasingly being tested by potentially dangerous illegal immigrants — including those associated with terrorists or enemy countries’ armed forces.
“Clearly our enemies and our adversaries understand that it is a weakness,” said House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have seen a trend of countries that we are very concerned about, a rise in individuals being apprehended at the border. The scary part about that is those are just the ones that get apprehended.”
The warning comes as the immigration debate shifts into a new phase now that Congress is gone for five weeks, leaving chiefly Mr. Obama, but also state officials, to try to manage with the tools they’ve got.
Mr. Obama mocked Congress for adjourning and said it frees him up to take the kinds of executive actions for which Republicans have chastised him in the past.
“Without additional resources and help from Congress, we’re just not going to have the resources we need to fully solve the problem,” he said in a Friday press conference. “That means, while they’re out on vacation, I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge — with or without Congress.”
But what form that takes is still iffy.
Early on, the White House had hinted it had “flexibility” under existing law to do more to speed up deportations, but it has been more coy in recent weeks, and a spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday.
Analysts, though, have laid out several options available to Mr. Obama. One would be to declare the border situation an emergency, which would allow immigration authorities to hold the illegal immigrant children rather than turn them over to relatives in the U.S., where they often disappear into the shadows.
Analysts have also said the administration does not have to perform as much scrutiny of every child’s legal situation, which could also speed up processing.
While the Obama administration mulls its own unilateral steps, Mr. Perry, the Texas governor, has been blunt about what he’ll do.
“What I’m prepared to do is not just [send] the National Guard, but our Department of Public Safety, our Texas Ranger Recon Teams, the Parks and Wildlife wardens that we have deployed there,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “And then I will suggest to you there will be other individuals who come to assist in securing that border.
“I think that’s what the American people want,” he said. “They’d like to see a president who leads this country and says, ‘You know what, we do have a problem on our southern border. We’re going to deal with it.’”
Congressional Republicans are hoping Mr. Perry and other national leaders can step in and fill the hole left by Capitol Hill’s failure to act.
The Senate stalemated when a bipartisan group of lawmakers blocked Democratic leaders’ bill, saying money isn’t enough to solve the problem, and the laws must be changed.