A “Katrina Moment.” It’s a phrase that, for whatever reason, immediately brings the image of Kanye West crying on TV to my mind. It’s the phrase Laredo Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar used to describe President Obama’s refusal to break from his Texas itinerary, which will see him swing through Dallas and Austin and attend three fundraisers in two days. He will not visit the detention centers on the Texas-Mexico border that are home to an increasing number of child refugees from Latin America. While in Dallas, however, Obama has invited Gov. Rick Perry to discuss the situation along with local faith leaders and elected officials. Expect Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to be there; the judge has offered to find housing for 2,000 child migrants.
But Katrina Moment? Even if Obama’s refusal to go to the border – as opposed to just sending aides to survey the situation – projects an image of callous detachment, is it fair to compare the drowning of an American city with thousands of children fleeing their troubled homeland? In my mind, that’s what makes this crisis cut to the moral heart of the immigration question. If it is morally unconscionable to reject children fleeing death, then where do you draw the line? Is it less immoral to reject adults fleeing death? Women fleeing abuse? What kind of abuse? What about grown men fleeing an economic reality that is equitable with a kind of death? I’m not offering answers, FrontBurnervians. It just seems like this is the real underlying implication of this crisis. Hardliners will quote Norm: “No, no, never, never.” But this situation seems to sneak between the cracks of the United States’ current asylum policy.