- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2014

President Obama’s move to try to speed up deportations of children and families surging across the southwest border drew fire Monday from immigrant-rights groups who said he’s endangering children in order to score political points at home.

After weeks of delay, Mr. Obama sent a letter to Congress saying he’ll soon submit an official request for more money to stiffen enforcement along the border, to find more detention space so illegal immigrants can be held, and to deploy more judges to decide cases faster.

His goal is to send a message that new border crossers won’t be able to disappear as easily into the shadows along with the other 11 million illegal immigrants already here.

But immigrant-rights advocates said that was the wrong message.

“We are outraged at President Obama’s plan to ‘fast track’ deportations of unaccompanied minors,” said Cristina Jimenez, managing director for United We Dream. “This humanitarian crisis requires a humanitarian response. Instead, this administration has placed children and mothers in cold detention centers and is working fast to disregard the conditions from which they fled and to potentially deport them to dangerous situations.”

The criticism means that, as with much of the rest of his immigration policy, Mr. Obama is under fire from both sides of the issue.

Those on the right say he has helped cause the surge of children through his lax enforcement policies, which have given many families hope that their children can gain a foothold in the U.S. Mr. Obama’s left flank, meanwhile, has said children and families should be given lawyers to help them argue their cases, and should be protected from having to return to impoverished and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

Mr. Obama in recent days has begun tilting toward the enforcement advocates’ side — though he has said those coming to the U.S. illegally will still get a fair hearing if they request asylum or have another claim to legal status.

He also has said taxpayers will have to pony up.

“This surge of resources will mean that cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible, ensuring the protection of asylum seekers and refugees while enabling the prompt removal of individuals who do not qualify for asylum or other forms of relief from removal,” Mr. Obama said.

But he said the surge of children, which he called an “urgent humanitarian situation” does not show a failure of his broader immigration policies. He said apprehensions at the border “remain at near historic lows.”

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