Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) appeared on Meet the Press Sunday with David Gregory to discuss the border crisis. The interview provided an object lesson in clashing worldviews. Rep. Rogers made the case that allowing kids to stay would only encourage more to follow in their footsteps. And, critically, some of the kids would be harmed in the process or not make it here at all. David Gregory only seemed to hear that Rogers wanted to turn kids away at the border and objected that it was unfair to suggest the President was at fault.
David Gregory: The majority of them have to go back home is your point.
Rep. Rogers: Think about what we’re doing. This isn’t a walk in the park to get from El Salvador or Honduras to the United States. These are criminal gangs, these are organized criminal gangs. These kids are subject to sexual exploitation. They are subject to drug exposure. Some of them are being recruited or pressed into gangs along the way. We’re losing these kids along the way. Imagine the experience…
Gregory: Well but doesn’t that raise the point then why just turn them away. Do you not have to come up with a process that can more safely return them.
Rogers: No, no we can safely get them home. The problem is by encouraging the behavior that you see and not stopping this attitude that it’s okay…
Gregory: But who is encouraging this behavior. Is that unfair to say the President is somehow encouraging them to come.
Rogers: The policy on the border certainly is encouraging this behavior. If I believe–and I’m in El Salvador or somewhere else that I can pay a criminal gang, think of that, to take my children through some very dangerous circumstances to get to the United States and then they’re going to open up with loving arms and keep those kids, you’re encouraging that behavior.
Rogers is absolutely right and David Gregory should not be so surprised by this idea. He would not be if he had paid attention to the Vice President’s recent trip to Guatemala. While there, V.P. Biden indicated there would be a public media push to clarify we do not have an open border policy for children, at least not in theory. In reality, very few of the kids who have arrived in recent years have been sent home.
Even President Obama’s stated his intent was to speed up decision about the kids now arriving so more of them can be returned to their countries of origin. Everyone knows that we need to signal that the border is not open lest we encourage even more kids to make the dangerous journey. The real question is whether we are acting quickly enough and clearly enough to make that point.