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Ruben Navarrette: Problem not all Biden's

Ruben Navarrette: Problem not all Biden's

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Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Even without the Trump Circus, the Republican Party still has an abundance of clowns.

In politics, there has never been a shortage of attention seekers who are prone to addressing serious issues in an unserious manner. Lawmakers in both parties often confuse being passionate about a subject with knowing something about that subject.

Of course, you find many such people in Washington. Our nation's capital produces such a surplus of cow manure that some of it had to be recently exported to the U.S.-Mexico border.

That was the stage for what 19 Republican senators billed as a fact-finding mission and what the rest of us will recognize as a cheesy publicity stunt. Decked out in khakis and baseball caps, these lawmakers didn't go to the border for answers. They consider themselves the smartest people in any room, and so -- on every subject -- they already have all the answers. All they needed was a few anecdotes from border patrol agents to bolster their message: "This Border Crisis, Brought to You By President Biden."

For the last several weeks, political delegations from Washington and national news crews from New York have traveled to the spot where South Texas snuggles up against the U.S.-Mexico border. When they arrive, they're shocked -- shocked! -- to discover a phenomenon that has been occurring for the last century: people coming across the border, without authorization.

Thousands of migrants -- ranging from entire families to unaccompanied minors -- are coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in the hopes that they'll be able to demonstrate enough "credible fear" to be declared refugees by Uncle Sam.

Is that all? Fear is about the only thing these people have plenty of. It was put there by ruthless gangs who extort money from good people, and then kill those who can't pay. Suddenly, America -- this land of immigrants that has, in truth, never liked immigrants -- began to look pretty good.

The American Dream has been reduced to simply being allowed to work in the United States, where they might have the privilege of cleaning up after Americans, when they're not busy raising our kids or cooking our food or caring for our elderly.

That's the real story, the one the media always misses and the politicians deliberately ignore. That's who caused much of the turmoil on the border: U.S. employers. They are never held to account, yet they're the ones who showed these people a path out of the violence and desperation of Central America.

Some Americans might not be able to connect the dots between the immigrants of yesterday and refugees of today. But it's not difficult.

See that 12-year-old Guatemalan boy in the caravan, walking alone through Mexico toward the United States? He's got a phone number in his pocket, and he's hoping to get to Michigan to stay with his aunt. She's been living there for 10 years. What's that? You don't know his aunt? Sure, you do. She's your housekeeper. She makes your beds and scrubs your floors, affording you an upper-class lifestyle on a middle-class salary.

That's a story worth telling. Republicans have had a starring role in it for at least the last 35 years. When Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which promised to sanction employers of illegal immigrants, lawmakers narrowed the scope of enforcement to those who "knowingly" hired the undocumented. Otherwise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- which bankrolls GOP candidates in congressional races -- would have no doubt killed the legislation.

As everyone knows, the U.S.-Mexico border can be a dangerous place. And last week, there was no more dangerous place to be than between a television camera and one of these glory hounds from the Senate.

"One of the lessons we learned is that, if you don't build it, they will come," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. "When you don't finish the job and secure the border, you are inviting people into this country."

Wrong, genius. We invite people into this country when we put out a sign that reads: "Help Wanted."

These Republican senators could have saved themselves a trip to the border. If they want to know who's to blame for the fact that migrants and refugees head north, they need only look in the mirror.

Ruben Navarrette writes for the Washington Post.



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