My son, the skateboarder, has a name for people who dress the part, talk the part, but who don’t really do what dedicated skateboarders do. He calls them “posers.”
On immigration, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is a poser. He talks about it – oh, my, yes. But when it comes to doing something about it, he won’t. That’s because posing plays better for the cameras.
The other day the Texas Republican commanded the Senate lectern for 18 minutes deriding President Obama’s border policies. If anyone actually wanted to know what Cornyn would do differently, well . . .
Cornyn wanted his CSPAN audience to know that the president was in Texas and didn’t plan to go to the border, which meant Obama “either doesn’t understand this crisis or he doesn’t care.”
Cornyn said the fact that Obama held an immigration summit in Dallas rather than in the Rio Grande Valley was one more indication that the president is “tone-deaf” about border issues, particularly concerning the 52,000 young refugees who have presented themselves on the nation’s southern doorstep.
The senator parroted the Republican line that Obama’s policies are to blame for the influx. In fact, it is tied directly to a widely supported law George W. Bush signed in 2008 to deal with human trafficking and children fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America. Cornyn said not a word about that law.
He did say that the Border Patrol is hurting for resources. Then he made a less-than-glancing reference to the $3.7 billion Obama has requested for deportations with due process, more Border Patrol agents, and more facilities to handle detainees humanely..
What typical rhetoric: Obama has done nothing to secure the border!
In fact, this president has deported people at a higher rate than any predecessor, often angering his political supporters.
However, we know what the president’s loudest foes really don’t like when it comes to immigration: anything that smacks of compassion and pragmatism regarding good people who’ve been among us for many years.
Last year, with the ardent support of the president, the Senate passed a bill that would have nearly doubled the Border Patrol — while allowing applications for registered provisional immigrant status for otherwise law-abiding individuals who would pay a fine for entering the country illegally.
The so-called Gang of Eight bill was one of very few shows of bipartisanship on something that mattered. Cornyn ulimatey voted to advance it, but pushed a “trigger” provision certifying a 90 percent secure border. Good luck with that. Sen. John McCain called Cornyn’s amendment a “poison pill.”
It was the same kind of impossible-to-deliver guarantee demanded when the Senate bill went to that gallery of trolls, the House, where it died.
The thing is, it’s not just President Obama and Democrats who want a solution that combines enforcement with compassion. A new poll in 26 states commissioned by Partnership for a New American Economy, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers finds stunningly high support for reform along the lines of the Senate-passed bill. In fact, 86 percent of Republicans surveyed supported the Senate bill. That’s beyond stunning.
So, just who has the tone-deafness problem, Sen. Cornyn?
The situation with the young Central American refugees is a test of our common humanity. These are boat people without boats. Yet, hear Texas Republican Congressman Mike McCaul tell Fox News that, yeah, those little brown-skinned ones are precious, but the teens look “more like a threat.” Yeah, Congressman, like a bunch of Trayvon Martins, or Martinezes.
Hear softies like McCaul and Cornyn talk about the “humanitarian crisis” at the border. Then see them talk their way around realistic, broad-based, humanitarian solutions.
Let’s face it. They’re opposed to stuff like that. They’re mainly opposed to any real action at all. Now, where is the nearest microphone?
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.