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Immigration Reform Is Dead, Precisely When We Need It Most

Eric Cantor's shocking loss comes at a time when the United States is facing a critical challenge on its southern border.

Author: Shannon K. O'Neil, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program
June 13, 2014
Foreign Policy


Among the faithful, there has been at least faint hope that after the primary season ends and before midterms begin immigration reform might occur. President Barack Obama even held offon reviewing deportation policies in May to give space for a legislative fix. But now, with Eric Cantor's loss in his House primary to Tea Party outsider David Brat, that slim chance is pretty much nil.

The tragedy is that this setback is occurring precisely at a time when the human cost of our broken immigration system has again made the headlines, this time in the faces of thousands of undocumented children flooding across the southern border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehendedmore than 47,000 unaccompanied youths at the border over the last eight months -- mostly from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras -- overwhelming U.S. border facilities and detention centers.

These kids make a perilous and expensive journey north, coming to escape terrible violence in Central America, which now has the infamous distinction of being one of the most violent places in the world. These nations' weak rule of law and geography along the Colombia-Mexico-United States drug route has encouraged cartels to move in, particularly as Mexico (with U.S. support) has cracked down on these criminal enterprises at home.

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