In Policy Practice for Social Workers, What do the Republicans think about the influx of migrant children across the border? What do the Democrats think?  Identify the political factors...

In Policy Practice for Social Workers, What do the Republicans think about the influx of migrant children across the border? What do the Democrats think?  Identify the political factors influencing the way this crisis is being handled.  What about the timing?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The issue of immigration is a challenging one.  While empathetic to the realities that immigrant children face, Republicans do not believe that children crossing the border are reasons to alter a rather hardline stance on immigration.  As a party, the Republican party does not take a very liberal approach to the concept of immigration.  Rather, they feel that it is an issue where so much federal failure has been evident that stringent measures are needed.  Recent proposals that have been put forth by Republican legislators speak to how Republicans believe that migrant children across the border should have their cases expedited so that removal could be a swift process:  

Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona on Thursday introduced a bill that would amend the 2008 law so unaccompanied minors from non-contiguous countries would be treated the same as children from Mexico or Canada and thus face faster deportation, while Representative Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., introduced this month the Expedited Family Reunification Act, which would allow officials to treat all unaccompanied minors the way they now treat children from Canada and Mexico.

Such policy stances reflects how the Republicans, as a party, view migrant children.  As a party, the Republicans have demonstrated a reticence towards embracing immigration as an issue of reform and change:  "Republican support for allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States legally has dropped by 10 points since February, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center."  

Through a combination of both opposition to the Republican stance and its own affirming of immigration reform, it is not surprising that the Democrats take a different approach to the issue of migrant children who come across the border.  In response to recent Republican legislation that would essentially hasten the deportation of migrant children without procedural hearings, the Democrats have argued that eroding the children's right to due process with a new kind of "sham hearing."  The Democrat approach that seeks to enhance immigration reform through initiatives such as The Dream Act as well as granting citizenship to individuals who have met specific requirements lies in stark contrast to the Republican approach towards both the concept of immigration and migrant children, in general.  

The political factors that influence the crisis' handling are more compelling realities for the elected leaders than the plight of the migrant children.  Immigration is emerging as a wedge issue.  Within the Republican party, the issue carries its largest political implications.  The staunch party loyalists along with members of the Tea Party element of the Republican party do not believe in moving on their hardline stance on immigration.  Republican leaders who come across as "soft" on immigration end up paying a steep political price.  No better was this seen than in this past Spring's upset defeat of Eric Cantor.  A known Republican "power broker" and leader of the Republican party, Cantor lost his bid for reelection due, in large part, to his willingness to pursue immigration reform:

Many immigration advocates thought Eric Cantor’s expected primary victory against his challenger opposed to an immigration overhaul would embolden the House majority leader to put an immigration bill on the floor this summer.

That theory, or at least that closely held hope, was obliterated Tuesday evening, as the Virginia Republican suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of university professor Dave Brat.

Dave Brat branded Cantor as a "liberal" on immigration reform.  As a result, Cantor lost his seat.  It became clear that the Republican party legislators cannot appear "soft" on immigration.  Doing so translates into political defeat. This becomes one of the major political factors that influence the way the crisis of migrant children is being handled.  Acting in compassion of migrant children could be perceived as being "soft" on the topic, resulting in political loss.  The timing of the issue is one in which political credibility is seen as more important than anything else.  Through its unwillingness to address political reform in both parties, leaders associate immigration with a "hot- button" issue where more "bad" can come out of anything else.  Such a political reality plays a critical role in how the crisis is handled and how migrant children continue to hang in the balance of political expedience.

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