President Barack Obama and the Democrats were counting on using Republican opposition to immigration reform to woo moderate and Hispanic voters. Now the administration's handling of the flood of illegal unaccompanied minors crossing the border is being questioned across the political spectrum, The Washington Post reported.
The border emergency has once more brought questions about White House competence, suggestive of doubts raised in connection with the veterans medical scandal, last year's troubled Obamacare rollout, and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Post reported.
The crisis has overturned the usual political alignment on immigration policy. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reiterated that children entering the country illegally will be sent back.
About 1,000 deportations take place every day. Left-wing critics say Obama has become the "deporter-in-chief," the Post reported.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and other Democrats are pressuring the administration not to deport the tens of thousands of children who have entered since October 2013 from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Latinos want to "see who's standing with us," the Post reported.
In May 2012, Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry wrote Obama warning of a "surge of unaccompanied illegal minors entering the United States."
There is a growing perception among Republicans and some Democrats that Obama should have been proactive in handling the crisis.
Arizona Democratic Rep. Ron Barber said, "The numbers have spiked recently, but this is not a new development. It seems to me that the administration just wasn't paying close attention and could have acted sooner."
The White House counters that the crisis became unmanageable only in May.
In 2008, the Democratic controlled 110th Congress passed, and president George W. Bush signed into law, a bill that made it harder to expeditiously deport illegal minors to countries other than Mexico and Canada. Smugglers are now exploiting this anti-trafficking statute, according to the Post.
Republicans say that Obama's June 2012 executive order that paved the way for some migrants who arrived illegally as children to stay transmitted the wrong signal and served as a catalyst for the current crisis.
Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate have been pushing for immigration reform that would offer undocumented immigrants a pathway toward immigration citizenship.
Backers of immigration reform say Obama needs to reverse the impression that he was insufficiently engaged in the border crisis by bringing it to a "humane and resolute end," according to Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, the Post reported.
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