Move along, nothing to see here. Oh, wait. Right. Stop. Read:
Earlier this summer, as unaccompanied Central American children poured into the United States at a rate of more than 350 per day, President Obama and Republicans agreed: This was a crisis that Washington needed to address immediately. And then nothing happened. Surprising almost no one, the least-productive Congress in history went home for the summer without striking any kind of deal. Obama was left without the extra $3.7 billion he said he needed to deal with the situation at the border, and the existing immigration law that both the president and his conservative critics blamed for the calamity remained untouched.
Two months later, the number of minors being arrested at the border has dropped significantly. But what was a problem then remains a problem now. The big difference is that the summer’s “humanitarian crisis,” once the subject of innumerable press conferences and op-eds, now goes mostly unmentioned in Washington. To be sure, one major reason for the relative silence is that our attention has been pulled to Ferguson, Missouri, and the Middle East. But given the rhetoric and handwringing on display in June, late August’s relative silence is staggering.
Obama did touch on the topic briefly during a press conference this Thursday, in the context of how the crisis will affect his plan to reshape the nation’s immigration system through executive action. As the president noted, the flood of migrant children has slowed substantially in recent weeks. According to the most recent data from the Department of Homeland Security, the border patrol apprehended 5,508 unaccompanied children in July—nearly half the total of the previous month and the fewest since February. Still, these are huge numbers. The amount of unaccompanied minors from Central America arrested at the border last month was more than the number of Central American minors taken into custody in a typical year as recently as a half-decade ago.
To the other, before anyone panics, it is not really anything to panic about. But as we keep calm and respawn, perhaps we might spare a moment for those who cannot and will not respawn, and you know, given enough moments maybe someone will think of something useful. For our own part, we’ve got nothin’ at the moment.
Voorhees, Josh. “What Immigration Crisis?” Slate. 29 August 2014.
Image note: Detail of photo by John Moore/Getty images, July 2014—“A mother and child, 3, from El Salvador, await transport to a processing center for undocumented immigrants after they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States in July.”