- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2014

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.”

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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.

Meanwhile, in the House, GOP leaders suffered their own rebellion from conservatives who forced them to toughen up their legislation, adding in legislation to cancel Mr. Obama’s nondeportation policy for Dreamers, known in government-speak as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA.

About 600,000 young adult illegal immigrants have been granted tentative legal status and work permits under DACA, and Mr. Obama has hinted he could use executive authority to add millions more illegal immigrants — likely the parents of DACA recipients and parents of U.S. citizen children — to their ranks.

The House GOP passed a bill Friday night, on a 216-192 vote, to freeze the policy, preventing Mr. Obama from expanding it and potentially threatening even current recipients.

Democrats were incensed and predicted a backlash by voters.

“It’s not enough for Republicans to send desperate children back to violence in their home countries,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “They must also vote to deport the best young immigrants and brightest in our schools; vote to send victims of domestic violence back to their abusers; vote to hand witnesses back to drug lords; vote to remove the parents of American children.”

Republicans countered that DACA and other Obama policies are responsible for the new immigration problem.

“Word has spread around the world that our immigration laws are not enforced, which has enticed tens of thousands of kids, teenagers and families from Central America to come to the U.S. illegally with the hope of staying here,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary. “It’s clear that immigration enforcement is key to ending the crisis at the border and preventing similar situations in the future.”

The border surge itself has also rearranged immigration politics. Republican senators, who little more than a year ago helped write the broad immigration bill that Mr. Obama wanted — and which passed the Senate on a bipartisan 68-32 vote — are now distancing themselves from their own legislation.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who was part of the Gang of Eight senators that wrote the bill, told “Fox News Sunday” he now believes legalization of illegal immigrants can only come later, after the border has been secured and the legal immigration system has been fixed.

“In my mind, especially given everything that’s going on now, the only way we’re going to ever make progress on this issue is to first deal with illegal immigration, secure the border [and] win people’s confidence that in reality this problem is under control,” he said, couching it as a recognition of what can pass Congress right now.

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