In an interview with Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press, President Obama admitted the surge of unaccompanied minors at the border had forced him to delay his executive action on immigration. After the election he’ll try to take credit for cleaning up a problem his previous executive actions helped create.
Chuck Todd attributed the latest delay to the President’s “hopes of saving a democratic Senate,” Obama responded, “that’s not the reason.” “In terms of these
unaccompanied children, we’ve actually systematically worked through the
problem, so that the surge in June dropped in July, dropped further in
August,” the President explained. He added, “It’s now below what it was last year. But that’s not the
impression on people’s minds.”
The President seems to be taking substantial credit for the decline but the White House has previously been careful to note the decrease is probably the result of several factors. One of those factors is the summer heat. Immigration follows a seasonal pattern, dropping during the summer when crossing the desert becomes especially risky. As temperatures drop the numbers could climb again.
It’s also worth noting the President is taking credit for managing a crisis which is at least partially of his own making. In June the administration launched a PR campaign specifically
designed to clear up confusion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Numerous officials from Vice President Biden on down have made the case at home and abroad. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson published an op-ed in Spanish which likewise focused on confusion over DACA. The U.S. spent a million dollars to deliver the same message on Central American radio and TV.
Despite all of the evidence of a clear connection between DACA and the border crisis it has been framed as a partisan debate in most media coverage. Republicans say DACA is responsible and Democrats deny it. The media ignores the evidence spewing from White House officials own lips and allows the President continue to claim the border crisis is not his fault.
“Even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I
also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this,” the President told Chuck Todd. But he’s not really delaying this because he’s concerned about his legal authority. All of that has been worked out already, as much as it can be. No, the President is delaying action because he needs time to implement a White House media strategy, i.e. making sure “the public understands.”
This is really the heart of the matter. The success or failure of DACA 2.0 (what Obama calls it’s sustainability) will hinge on whether or not the President is held publicly accountable for the disastrous results of DACA 1.0. So far that really hasn’t happened. The public may have turned against him but after the election he’ll see if he can get his media ducks to line up for him one more time.