• With: Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Kim Strassel, Bret Stephens, Matt Kaminski

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," July 12, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," as President Obama struggles to deal with disorder on the boarder, a look at how we got here and Washington's response so far. Plus, Israel steps up its defensive as troops mobilize and tanks mass near the Gaza border? Are they preparing to take on Hamas once and for all?

    And it's shaping up to be a bloody summer in two of America's biggest cities. We'll look at what's behind the shooting spike in New York and Chicago.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in solving the problem? If they're interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics, then it won't be solved.


    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    That was President Obama in Dallas this week attempting to frame the debate over immigration, and pointing the finger at Republicans for failing to act. Under fire for his decision not to visit the Texas border during a three-day fundraising swing through the state, the president is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to help deal with the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America, a situation that has developed into a political and humanitarian crisis for the administration.

    Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; and columnists, Kim Strassel and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

    Mary, you followed the issue for years. Migration from the Americas to the United States. What is behind this influx of children?

    MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: Well, I think, Paul, what you have is a combination of factors, both push-and-pull factors. So from Central America, you have lots of crime and violence.

    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: And that's well-documented. General Kelly wrote a piece for the Military Times this week, saying that the effect of the war on drugs in Central America has created chaos and a breakdown of institutions in Central America.


    O'GRADY: People want to get away from that.

    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: And the pull factors, I think, are, first of all, most important, is an asylum opportunity that children have because of a law passed in 2008 during the Bush administration --

    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: -- bipartisan, that says that children who arrive in this country and claim that they need asylum, are entitled to a hearing.


    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: And that hearing can take up to two years. So, they know if they get here, they can stay for some period of time while they await their hearing.

    GIGOT: If they're from Central America. Mexico, children from Mexico and children from Canada have to be sent back. And this is a law that was attempting to stop human trafficking.

    O'GRADY: It was a law trying to give children, who are on the run, a chance. And the fact that they're Central American children, I think, is really complicating the situation because they cannot be sent back, according to American law. Now if Congress wants to change that law, that's fine. But under the law -- and Republicans say they believe in the rule of law -- these children have a right to a hearing. And, unfortunately, because the courts are so backed up, that can take up to two years.

    GIGOT: But a lot of their parents also here for economic reasons, are they not? I mean, the parents, for example, some of the parents are sending for their children to come to join them here, or join their aunts or uncles or other people who are already here, because they've come here for economic reasons.

    O'GRADY: Right. What I was trying to explain is that the crime and the violence are one of the factors. But the other factor is that they know if they get here, they are probably going to be able stay with their family for up to two years. And in those circumstances, they have better economic opportunities, and they're safer, and they escape the gangs.

    GIGOT: All right, Dorothy, would you agree with some of those who suspect, who claim that maybe the president wanted this influx over the border because maybe this would help get immigration reform passed?

    DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, yes. And I suspect he wanted it for a number of other political reasons as a thrust against the Republicans. But I --

    GIGOT: Maybe making the Republicans look uncompassionate or something?

    RABINOWITZ: Indeed. Indeed. This has been the great stick he's used against them. And I think there is a certain amount, not entirely, of myth-making about the causes of these childrens' influx, one of them being the great and terrible violence that's taking place. Violence has been taking place in these disordered societies forever.

    GIGOT: So you put more emphasis on the pull factors?

    RABINOWITZ: That's right.

    GIGOT: The promise --

    RABINOWITZ: The promise.

    GIGOT: -- of being able to stay here in the United States?

    RABINOWITZ: And you have to think. These are heart-breaking stories, there's no question about it. But these children are largely pawns. If you can imagine parents sending these babies over these incredibly dangerous treks for the purpose of escaping the violence and danger of their communities, you have to raise questions about the motives of them sending these people --

    GIGOT: I have to say, Dorothy, I disagree on whether the president would want to deceive us because, if he did, this is the dumbest strategy for getting immigration reform passed. This has set back immigration reform for years, I think.

    So, Kim, how well do you think the president is handling this?

    KIM STRASSEL, COLUMNIST: Well, look, this has led -- actually, I agree with you -- very awkward politics, not just for him, but others. But his bigger issue, quite aside from the complaints that he didn't go down for a visit while he was fundraising in Texas, this is a guy whose left has already beating him up for what they view are too many deportations already. And, yet, his response to this has to be, in some ways, that he is going to get tougher on this and deport these children. So that is awkward for them. Meanwhile, Republicans who spent their years saying the only problem is border security, that's blown a hole in the argument. Because, as Mary said, I mean, people are not coming up and sneaking across the border. These children are coming and being collected down there because, under the law, they're entitled to a hearing. And so what this all gets back to, in the end, is a failure, as you mentioned, of immigration reform. And both sides bear equal guilt for not having done more in ways that would actually fix this problem rather than just trying to tread water and keep up with it.