If the U.S. had more work visas for low-skilled immigrants, those parents could move back and forth more easily. As President Obama rightly said on Wednesday in Texas, this is another argument for immigration reform.
As for the recent surge of children now stuck in camps, the best analogy may be the Mariel Cuban boatlift of 1980. Fidel Castro unleashed a flood of migrants on the false promise of asylum in the U.S., and this year thousands of Central Americans have also rushed to the border based on misinformation. The Obama Administration should have done more to head off the influx, but now that the children are here they need to be taken care of before their cases are adjudicated and they can be returned home.
Mr. Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in new spending to assist in that task, and our advice would be to provide the money if he promises to work with Central American governments to safely return the children. A clear statement from the President that there is no automatic sanctuary in the U.S. would go far to correcting the misinformation and reduce future child migration. This is how Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, stopped a previous influx from Central America during the Bush Administration.
The larger tragedy of this episode is that it has done enormous and needless damage to the cause of immigration reform. The Obama Administration’s incompetence has again undermined its own agenda. But once the misery of the children is past, no one should think that illegal immigration can be stopped by more enforcement alone, by more Border Patrol agents or more harassment of American business. The way to reduce illegal immigration is by providing more work visas to enter—and leave—the U.S. legally.