BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
Watching Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma congressional delegation’s assorted buffoonery, I am reminded of my friend Eve who once observed, “Some mornings it’s just not worth chewing through the leather straps.” I refer to the Fallin’s petition to the President demanding immigrant children currently in federal custody be removed from Fort Sill.
Bad enough Gov. Fallin, with re-election numbers teetering on free fall, tries to curry political favor on the backs of indigent children; the entire congressional delegation emerged from Tom Coburn-esque shadows to join the flogging. Even U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, saner of the delegation and GOP party whip, joined the fray.
We know Fallin to be responsive to children’s needs – she said as much Oct. 23, 2010 in Edmond, debating Democrat opponent Jari Askins. The future governor said, “I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for governor. First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family.”
When taken to task she said, “I was just explaining that these things give me a good perspective on the challenges Oklahomans face, and hopefully voters can relate to that.”
Fallin is sensitive to the needs of others. In her State of the State address Feb. 3, she said, “I will also never forget the brave and compassionate actions of so many of our citizens: men and women taking complete strangers into their homes and offering them a place to sleep and a warm meal; Oklahomans, and even people from neighboring states, dropping everything to volunteer their time and resources to help the recovery effort.”
Her admiration was for voters aiding tornado victims of Moore, OK, not Third World indigents.
Why would a compassionate Mom turn out thousands of children claiming they were a burden on the people? Only a few short months ago she opined admiration for Oklahoma’s heart at giving care to the unfortunate, why not now?
The most probable answer is Nov. 12, 2014. Fallin has found herself, after doing the Tea Party snake dance, in an election she didn’t expect. Even the conservative friendly Sooner and Rasmussen polls say that while perhaps not in trouble, she has problems.
The governor apparently hasn’t received the memo that Barack Obama is not on the ballot this year, and not likely to be in any future year. She apparently feels further attacks on a soon-to-be-lame duck president is safer than facing Joe Dorman on the issues.
Undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America are soft targets, unless they have great curve or fastball. Republicans have used these immigrants to scare the white tribe for the last several elections.
But now the Fallin GOP has a problem, one of their own making. Oklahoma’s governor claims there are thousands of immigrant children housed at Fort Sill. She is attempting to create the fear they will be released en masse onto the Oklahoma plains and into the hills.
Her problem is she supported and voted for the very law under which these people are being detained. This law gives them refugee status or at least the right to make the claim.
In making such a claim they have a different status than the run of the mill illegal immigrant. How did this law get on the books? It was all George W. Bush’s idea, and Fallin voted for it.
“In 2008, Gov. Fallin was Rep. Fallin,” writer Josh Dieker explained in his column last week, “and as Congress[woman] she voted for the same law she’s blaming President Obama for having the gall to follow. Voting yes in 2008 was the right thing to do. Now that some of the kids she voted to protect are being housed in her state, however, Fallin thinks they’re too much to handle.”
Now confronted with thousands of immigrant children, fleeing drug wars in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, pounding on the southern border, the GOP is attempting to suggest this all happened overnight.
Fallin’s central campaign theme is, “It’s all Obama’s fault.” This is not unlike in the days of yore, when the economy was strong and there was no war, and the GOP platform consisted of little more than, “It’s all Clinton’s fault.”
And here is where the Fallin/GOP takes its toll on otherwise normal Republicans. Rep. Cole, who represent’s Oklahoma’s 4th District, joined in the desperation dance saying, “While the flood of these juveniles has caused an apparent crisis, it is one of the president’s own making due to a policy failure stemming from his unwillingness to enforce existing immigration law.”
So in order to understand this crisis, we need to understand that in 2008 under the guidance of President Bush, Congress passed a law enabling immigrants from certain countries to claim refugee status once they got to the U.S.
President Obama is abiding by that law so the crisis is his fault.
Further, it is his fault these immigrant children are being housed at military facilities, the only federal facilities large enough to accommodate such numbers. What would the Oklahoma delegation have the government do – build more private prisons using 3D printer technology?
For all the “God fearing” and “Christian nation” that GOP/Tea folks spout, they seem a little short on compassion for the downtrodden, specifically Matthew 19:13-14: “Some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Maybe all such writings are invoked only when wanting to prevent someone from doing something the GOP/Tea doesn’t like, or won’t reap a profit from. Maybe these things weren’t really meant for indigent immigrant children.
Maybe Fallin, Cole, et al, would have a giant posse of A&M grads herd them by horseback down I-35 into the Rio Grande. Maybe they would have them put in uniforms with a giant yellow “L” loaded on boxcars and … well, taken away.
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK, and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at https://www.createspace.com/3804081 or at www.richardfricker.com.