Two of the nation's top law-enforcement officials on the front lines of the illegal immigration crisis on Tuesday slammed the stalemate shaping up in Congress over President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency request to address the issue.
"The Congress' and the president's inaction to address this crisis is a joke," said Pinal (Ariz.) County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "They are divorced from reality.
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"This is where the American people are furious with their lack of action and their inability to solve core issues," he said.
Babeu's frustration erupted as political realities threatened to derail any action on Obama's request to respond to the deluge of illegal minors who have been arrested at the U.S. border in south Texas in recent months.
Don Reay, executive director of the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, laughed at the specter of more partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill.
"Real simply, here we go again," Reay said. "This is an across-the-aisle issue."
The debate over Obama's proposal heated up after House Democrats pledged
to slash the president's request by $1 billion and to include $225 million to help Israel battle Hamas militants in Gaza and $615 million to fight wildfires raging in the West.
But Republican House Speaker John Boehner demanded again that any request include changes to a 2008 law that would speed up deportation of illegals from such Central American countries as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
"I don't believe the American people will support sending more money to the border unless both parties work together to address these policies and actually solve this problem," Boehner said.
The threat of a stalemate led Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn to acknowledge that "unfortunately, it looks like we're on a track to do absolutely nothing."
Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, and Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar introduced legislation
earlier this month that would allow Border Patrol agents to turn back illegal minors without holding hearings in hugely backlogged immigration courts.
Congress begins its five-week summer recess on Aug. 1.
In the meantime, illegal minors continue to storm the border after crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico. Since Oct. 1, more than 57,000 illegal minors have been apprehended — and many of them are being held in shelters on military bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas.
The accommodations cost American taxpayers $252 per child per day. The administration has now estimated that 90,000 illegals could be arrested by the end of September.
Efforts to house illegals in various communities around the country have sparked heated protests
from local residents. Nearly 40 demonstrations have taken place in Los Angeles and southern California, while others were being planned in Dallas, Philadelphia, and Little Rock, Ark.
In their Newsmax interviews, Babeu and Reay were angered that the Capitol Hill sniping could keep funds from getting to those working in the trenches.
"I wish that those in Congress and those in the executive branch would start thinking as Americans, rather than Republicans or Democrats," Reay said.
"America's in crisis. America has a major problem — and because of politics, we have no attempts to compromise to move forward. So, we remain in stalemate. Everybody has some fault here."
Reay said he was troubled that the burden for caring for the illegals has fallen on local residents.
"It has had an impact on the social services, the charities that are stepping up to help. Quite frankly, law enforcement — the Border Patrol, the deputies, the police officers — have helped out of their pockets. They're part of the community. They have ownership in their communities.
"Nobody's going to turn away a child," Reay added, "but the fact is we have a bigger picture here with the rule of law. When are we going to get control of our borders? That is an issue."
Without that, Babeu said, Obama would be wasting any emergency funds he gets from Congress.
"President Obama may as well throw this money out the window, because this is a one-time Band-Aid," he said. "It does not address the core issue, an unsecured border.
"By turning this as purely a humanitarian crisis without fixing the 2008 deficiencies of the law, President Obama is sending a message to future illegals that if you get to the border, you're home free."
Babeu illustrated his frustration this way, reflecting on the latest government estimates: "What comes next? How does President Obama say no to the next 90,000? He doesn't — and then, there's another $3.7 billion."
"If we don't stand for the rule of law, this just further undermines who we are as Americans. This number is going to be far greater, and the problem never gets addressed, never gets solved.
"For every other American, the law applies to us — yet when it comes to immigration, it appears that there is no law, because there is no consequences for breaking the law," Babeu said.
The sheriff supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry's plan to deploy 1,000 National Guard
troops on the border.
"That's the point at which we have arrived now in our country," Babeu said. "It's a very sad and disheartening point — not just for Americans, but certainly for those of us in law enforcement.
"When we see this president stomp on our Constitution and who we are as a nation, it's unacceptable.
"We're at a time where this federal power grab has reached its pinnacle — and this has to stop," Babeu said. "This president has been on the march for a power grab of the executive office, and it's got to be stopped."
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