What border crisis?

Two points about the following headline in Friday’s Washington Post: “Democrats lack unified stance on solving border crisis.” First, the Post is acknowledging something that the mainstream media has long denied — the existence of a border crisis.

The phrase “border crisis” also appears in the headline of the online version of the story. And it appears in the Post article itself, not just in the words of sources but also in the words of the Post’s reporters (Mike DeBonis and Rachel Bade).

The Post even documents the crisis:

Between October and February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 268,044 migrants — the fastest pace recorded by the agency since 2008 and more than double the rate seen two years ago.

My second point is that the Democrats, unlike their media allies, still do not acknowledge that a true crisis at the border exists. Thus, the problem isn’t that the “Democrats lack a unified stance on solving the border crisis.” The problem is they don’t believe there’s a genuine crisis.

According to the Post, “progressive” members of the House Democratic caucus believe that the “crisis” has been “manufactured” by President Trump. “The crisis,” said one member, “is that we’ve blocked the process for people to come in and claim asylum.”

The Post also reports that “a session on the [illegal immigration] issue organized by liberal members [of the House] largely focused on how to reduce enforcement and detention.” (Emphasis added) They want to accomplish this by “limit[ing] funding for enforcement agencies and also curb[ing] the ability of executive branch officials to transfer funds that could be used, for example, to buy more detention beds.”

I see no evidence that Speaker Pelosi supports this approach, but neither, to my knowledge, has she acknowledged that there’s a crisis at the border. Instead, according to the Post, she points to the need for an “overarching” immigration deal with President Trump.

However one feels about an “overarching” deal, one does not hold out for it when there’s a genuine crisis. In times of crisis, one addresses the situation on the ground immediately rather than trying to extract major concessions from it. That’s particularly true where, as here, attempts to gain the concessions that the “overarching” deal Pelosi seeks would entail have been resisted successfully by Republicans time after time, and not just under this president.

There might well be a political cost to the Democrats’ unwillingness to take the border crisis seriously, and it is this possibility, not the border crisis itself, that seems most to concern the Post. It puts the matter this way:

The lack of an easily articulated alternative to Trump’s hard-line border policy stands as a persistent challenge for Democrats both in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail as they approach the 2020 election cycle increasingly confident on other fronts, such as health care.

But again, the real problem isn’t the lack of “an easily articulated alternative” to Trump’s policy. Rather, it’s Democratic indifference (or worse) to the crisis that Trump’s policy is trying to address.

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