I’ve been on vacation the past week (the Monterey Bay Aquarium is lovely, by the way) but the few times I checked the headlines, the big story was the border crisis.
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have attempted to cross into the U.S. These kids are fleeing violence and grinding poverty in their home countries, but many point to popular rumors that they’ll enjoy amnesty once they arrive. Obama’s self-serving and murky immigration policy, especially concerning young “DREAMers,” has borne its bitter fruit.
While many are calling the crisis Obama’s Katrina, a more apt political parallel is the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. In that fateful election year, President Jimmy Carter had pointed to his “reset” of relations with Fidel Castro’s Cuban government. The Democrat had softened America’s stance to the rogue regime, establishing an Interest Section in Havana and relaxing travel arrangements for Cuban Americans.
Castro repaid this kindness with an announcement that anyone who wanted to leave his island prison could do so. Hundreds of thousands of desperate Cubans boarded rickety rafts to make the dangerous trip to Florida. But the crafty dictator had also quietly opened the gates to his prisons and mental health facilities, encouraging the recently released to join the exodus.
When the first refugees arrived, the American public was welcoming. The sentiment soon turned sour as more and more dangerous and severely ill Cubans overran Florida’s meager relief capacity. Popular opinion quickly turned against the feckless Carter as he shipped wave after wave of immigrants to sites across the nation.
One of those destinations was Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, where one-term governor Bill Clinton was turned out of office after riots occurred. The Mariel Boatlift became a cautionary tale to politicians for the next two decades; a lesson seemingly forgotten by President Obama’s team.
Perhaps the worst political fact for Obama is that American sentiment is negative at the start of this new “boatlift.” Mobs are turning around the first buses to arrive; just imagine the reaction to as new illegal immigrants arrive in August, September and October.
Obama has made another disastrous miscalculation. And those who will pay most dearly are locked in disease-ridden detention centers or are lost and thirsty in the deserts of northern Mexico.