by Julie Kelly
The crisis at the southern U.S. border proves at least one thing to be true: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is more honest than Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and his fellow anti-Trump Republicans.
Ocasio-Cortez, to her credit, has never tried to fool the American people or her constituency by suggesting she wants anything less than open borders. Lawmakers on the Left, including the roster of Democratic presidential candidates, have made it clear we must accept an unlimited influx of refugees from Central America. The treatment of migrant children, they tell us, is a national disgrace and an international scourge. Border patrol agents are criminals but the tens of thousands of Central American citizens illegally entering our country each month are not, they insist. Overflowing intake facilities are compared to Nazi concentration camps, and Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that sort of unabashed honesty—no matter how insane, dangerous, and historically illiterate it is—over the deceptive and duplicitous machinations of alleged “conservatives” like Romney. To her credit, AOC doesn’t pretend to be someone she’s not—staged and dated photo-op notwithstanding. Give me a truthful authoritarian over a phony conservative any day. At least we know who we’re dealing with.
The poseurs on the so-called Right have contributed more to the current immigration crisis than anyone on the Left, and for that, they should forever be banished from any position of power in the Republican Party.
After years of making empty promises and false threats about how to solve the country’s worsening illegal immigration problem, Romney and his NeverTrump accomplices sided with the Left (again) to undermine President Trump’s efforts to ease a crisis they just a few months ago denied existed.
Subsequently, they jeopardized our national security; overwhelmed federal resources; subverted the president’s constitutional powers; abdicated Congress’ own constitutional duty; misled the American people; and fueled a chaotic situation that endangers the lives of everyone involved, including migrants and the people responsible for securing the border.
Romney, a well-known flip-flopper, ran as an immigration hawk in 2012. He was for a border wall before he was against it. When he posed as the “severely conservative” Republican candidate for president, Romney supported a vague deportation plan for 11 million illegals, the hiring of more border agents and imposing obstacles for illegals to access education and employment opportunities. He blasted President Obama’s failed policies. “We will stop the flow of illegal immigration into this country, I’m convinced of that,” he assured us in January 2012.
Exactly seven years later, in his consolation-prize role as Utah’s junior senator, Romney voted with Democrats against stopping the flow of illegals, and instead opted to block progress on a border wall he once insisted we needed. In March, Romney joined 11 other Republican senators to halt Trump’s emergency declaration about the U.S.-Mexican border. Calling it only a “humanitarian crisis,” Romney blathered about constitutional boundaries and the rule of law as his excuse for thwarting Trump’s perfectly legal exercise of executive power.
Romney was joined in his weasel move by Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Many defended their vote as a choice to forego a bogus “constitutional” crisis over solving a legitimate border crisis.
These open-borders Republicans were egged on by the same conservative commentariat that has offered little in the way of legitimate solutions to the immigration crisis. The editorial board of National Review encouraged Senate Republicans to overturn Trump’s declaration, of course, on grounds of “principle.” The defectors would show a willingness “to stand up for how our constitutional system is supposed to work—even when the underlying political objective is a worthy one, even when it means crossing a president of their own party, even when it is politically inconvenient,” the editors wrote on March 13. Never mind that they fail to understand the nature of executive power or the political power of the people who elected him to exercise it.
Apparently National Review’s editors want to play by long-abandoned rules of a Democrat-created administrative state and believe that, in doing so, they can win favor and prestige with other weak political actors and donors as the Left steamrolls the Right and laughs at our obsequiousness.
David French (naturally) hammered the president for months on the issue, arguing in January there was no national emergency on the southern border and that Trump’s threat to invoke the National Emergencies Act represented an abuse of power.
In February, French again downplayed the crisis at the Mexican border:
[Trump] is listing the problems on the border that have existed for decades and that Congress has enacted comprehensive statutory schemes (including funding civilian wall construction and civilian immigration authorities) to combat. Gang activity and drug-smuggling are grave problems, but they are crimes, not acts of war.
Yes, why would Americans consider the unfettered dumping of illegal weapons and deadly drugs into our communities by foreigners as an act of war against the United States?
Jonah Goldberg sniffed that Trump’s move showed “weakness, not strength.” Perhaps overlooking how the bogus Russian collusion investigation (which Goldberg eagerly touted) undermined the first two years of Trump’s presidency, Goldberg wrote, “powerful presidents enact their agendas through Congress, not executive orders. It’s why they usually manage to get their big-ticket items passed shortly after an election, when they can declare a mandate.”
Goldberg, too, minimized the chaos at the border. “President Trump has been wanting to message the crisis at the border as basically a scene from a Chuck Norris movie where the people are coming in to rape and pillage the country,” Goldberg weirdly explained on “Face the Nation” on March 31. “Democrats have not wanted to give him any credit for the fact there actually is a crisis at the border . . . but it’s not the crisis of the drugs and the guns and all that. It’s a humanitarian crisis.”
It is no coincidence that as anti-Trump Republicans and “conservatives” assured the world there was no crisis at the border and this was all a figment of Trump’s active imagination, attempted crossings surged.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the total number of illegals apprehended at the southwest border nearly tripled between January and May. And given the policy of privileging migrants traveling as families with children, the number of illegal family units more than tripled, and the number of unaccompanied children more than doubled.
Now Democrats and the media must acknowledge a crisis exists, even if their political motives for doing so differ from Trump’s. But there can be no doubt that so-called “conservatives,” motivated by their contempt for Trump but disguising it as some kind of lofty devotion to fuzzy principles, are as responsible as the Left for the current untenable situation at the border. Yet they remain as feckless and dishonest on the issue as ever, criticizing the administration while offering nothing in the way of a solution.
On Wednesday, after images of a father and his toddler daughter who reportedly drowned while attempting an illegal crossing went viral, Senate Republicans finally mustered the courage to take some action on the crisis, approving $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid. Romney voted for the bill, which still leaves out funding for a border wall and increased security measures.
There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on as to who is to blame for this mess, and most of it is directed either at Trump or House Democrats. But the complicity of Republicans in this debacle should not and cannot be overlooked. They deserve as much shame and scorn as anyone else.
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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.