Border disorder: How did we get here in the first place?

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.

GIGOT: Do you think the president, Dorothy, should have gone to the border, and looked like he was inspecting this and on top of the issue?

RABINOWITZ: Yes, the answer is. However, I don't think the president feels quite like the president he was before that. And this was an expansion of his "so sue me" attitude towards public relations. This is the same person who went to hold Governor's Christie hand after the flood - -

GIGOT: Hurricane Sandy.

RABINOWITZ: Yes. And took the trouble to do that, who suddenly can't move from a billiard-playing excursion --

GIGOT: Because you think this is awkward politics for him, as Kim says, or -- or --

RABINOWITZ: It's awkward. And I also think it's a kind of helpless -- I actually think it's a kind of psychological breakdown of a sort, the kind of resistance to the role of a president, and it's saying, I don't have good approval in the ratings. Here's some more. I don't have to have a portrait of my compassion. You better know who I am.

GIGOT: All right, Dorothy Rabinowitz, thank you very much.

When we come back, tanks mass at the Gaza border as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to end Hamas' assault on his cities. So what's Israel's next move?



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: No country on earth will remain passive in the face of hundreds of rockets fired on its cities, and Israel is no exception.


GIGOT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday announcing that Israel is stepping up its Gaza offensive in response to a rain of rockets fired from the region by the terror group Hamas. Israeli war planes this week hit hundreds of suspect militant sites and the government authorized the call up of some 40,000 army reservists, mobilizing for a possible ground invasion of the territory it withdrew from in 2005.

"Wall Street Journal" foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens; and editorial board member, Matt Kaminski, join me with more.

So, Bret, why is Hamas doing this now? Because they're bearing the brunt. Their people are bearing the brunt of the retaliatory response from Israel?

BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: Well, a couple reasons. They were strategic back-footed both by the pressure on Assad -- they lost their patron in Syria, Bashar Assad -- and also by the fact that Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president, sympathetic to Hamas --


STEPHENS: -- was overthrown --

GIGOT: They're doing this out of weakness?

STEPHENS: Well, partly, there was a question of their weakness. But also the killing of an Arab boy, following the killing of three Jewish teenagers, sparking days of rioting in the West Bank. And I think Hamas saw an opportunity to spark or incite a third intifada where they could both sideline their principle Palestinian rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Fatah Party, and take the initiative against Israel.

GIGOT: By "intifada" you mean a general Palestinian uprising --

STEPHENS: That's right.

GIGOT: -- against Israel.

But Hamas, Matt, is bearing the brunt of, as I said, the retaliation. They're -- what do they really think they can gain from this?

MATT KAMINSKI, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, I'm not sure they're concerned about the civilian casualties. The last time you had -- in any war between Hamas and Israel, you had 10 times as many casualties because Gaza is so closely packed in.

GIGOT: Right.

KAMINSKI: And when Hamas sends its rockets, they either miss the target or they're shot down by the Iron Dome, this missile-defense system. But I think Hamas is obviously -- it's not very concerned about its civilian casualties. But it -- it will get the sympathy of a lot of the world or a lot of the world. And as Bret pointed out, it is fighting an internal Palestinian battle, you know, who is going to be representing the Palestinians.

GIGOT: So, this would help them within the Palestinian movement --


STEPHENS: Right. And it's also -- they look at -- Hamas is a very cynical terrorist movement that looks at Palestinian civilian casualties as a propaganda victory for their side. And too many people in the West play into precisely that game that they plan. So, Hamas is firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel.

GIGOT: Right.

STEPHENS: The only reason they're not killing people is that they missed, that they're not effective. But it's indiscriminate fire at civilian targets. The Israelis are trying to fire very precisely, but when you're firing into densely populated areas, and the rocket fire, that Palestinian rocket fire is coming from cities who are going to have collateral damage.

GIGOT: Now, in 2008, there was an incursion that Israel made into Gaza to try to really stop these missile attacks and get to these launchers and so on. And yet, here we are, a few years later, back again. And we were, back in 2012, doing the same thing. That time, Israel didn't go into a ground invasion. What is the goal of the Israeli response? Are they fated every two years or so to have to do this all over again?

STEPHENS: Well, Israel has been reluctant to reoccupy the Gaza Strip since it withdrew all of its settlers, all of its settlements in 2005. I think they're going to need to start rethinking that proposition. Part of the problem, Hamas now has these very long-range rockets that --

GIGOT: Right.

STEPHENS: -- are hitting in areas of central Israel, all the way to Haifa in the north. And that's because there is extensive tunneling between Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza.

GIGOT: Into Gaza, right.

STEPHENS: Well, I think Israel will have to, at some point, reoccupy a wide corridor to separate Egypt from Gaza in order to prevent that kind of smuggling because these rockets are getting increasing sophisticated.

GIGOT: Is it possible to eliminate Hamas as a military and political force with that kind of a ground incursion? Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said this week it was not possible.

STEPHENS: No. I think that's a silly proposition. Israel has been in the Gaza Strip before. Now it would be --


GIGOT: You think that they can eliminate Hamas --


GIGOT: -- politically and militarily?

STEPHENS: Oh, absolutely. Hamas is not a major military threat to Israel, in the sense it's no match to the Israeli defense forces. And if -- but it would require a sustained operation in Gaza that would have political costs to Israel that would certainly mount -- certainly result in Palestinian casualties and some Israeli casualties as well.

GIGOT: Matt, what do you think about the U.S. response so far, which seems to be we will be a mediator between the two?

KAMINSKI: Well, it's not clear who they would mediate between, first of all. And second of all, we have very little leverage there as in so many other parts of the world these days. The failure of this ill-conceived effort to negotiate peace between the Palestinians and Israel that John Kerry launched --

GIGOT: Right.

KAMINSKI: -- that collapsed in spring. The mediator just resigned. So, we have very little capital to use with the Israelis or with the Palestinians. And not many people will take us seriously there anymore.

GIGOT: So there's not much we can do, except let it play out.

All right, thank you, gentlemen.

Still ahead, a bloody summer in the city. Chicago and New York see a spike in shootings. So what's behind the latest spate of gun violence? Our panel weighs in, next.


GIGOT: It's shaping up to be a bloody summer in two of America's biggest cities, with Chicago seeing a stunning 82 shootings in just 84 hours over the July 4th weekend, and New York City ending the month of June with an uptick in gun violence as well. NYPD crime statistics show shootings citywide up 9.5 percent so far in 2014, a figure some attribute to the curtailment of the department's controversial Stop and Frisk program.

We're back with Matt Kaminski, Dorothy Rabinowitz and Kim Strassel.

So, Dorothy, what's behind this upsurge in violence? Let's take New York first.

RABINOWITZ: Let's take New York? Let's take the fact that nobody is really afraid to carry a gun any more now because the overwhelming sense is that police are afraid to pat you down, to come up to you and check you out --

GIGOT: That's what they could do under Stop and Frisk?

RABINOWITZ: That's right.

GIGOT: Stop you and say, do you have a weapon. And if they look suspicious, they could frisk them and confiscate the weapon.

RABINOWITZ: Yes. This is an inhibiting factor now, and police feel this factor, I will be sued, I will be threatened with being sued. It's an entirely human response to all of this. And all of this is a result of an endless, endless campaign against Stop and Frisk as the most incredible violation of human rights ever. Look, 6 percent of this city is public housing. 26 percent of all of the crime, violent crime in the city, takes place in those housing developments.

GIGOT: And it is precisely in those --


GIGOT: -- most violent neighborhoods, and where the residents actually support Stop and Frisk, Matt, as opposed to some of the elite neighborhoods where there's less crime and they can indulge their civil libertarian instincts.

KAMINSKI: Certainly. I think you've seen that people really did appreciate the police being very engaged and watching their neighborhoods like hawks. Overall, this is not -- this uptick in crime has not touched the better parts of -- the wealthier parts of New York. It's been very concentrated, the shooting violence, in part of Brooklyn, up in the Bronx. In mostly minority projects --


KAMINSKI: -- where gangs are carrying guns, you might mention. This is not a problem of gun control --


GIGOT: No. New York has some of the most strict gun control laws --

KAMINSKI: As does Chicago.

GIGOT: -- in the country. Right.

KAMINSKI: As does Chicago. And I think there's really -- Bill Bratton has come back as police commissioner here, was credited with the miracle in New York in the 1990s of decreasing homicides by 80 percent. Mayor De Blasio, Bill de Blasio, here to the left, has brought him back. And Bratton has always denied Stop and Frisk, had any effect, was related to the uptick. But now he says we have to study the problem, there may be something there.

GIGOT: Very interesting.

All right, Kim, let's take Chicago. It's had periodic bursts of murder sprees over the past couple of years. What accounts for the last one?

STRASSEL: So, it's similar to New York, but with a twist. Stop and Frisk hasn't been as much of an issue there. But what you are seeing Chicago is these crimes spiking again in very specific neighborhoods in Chicago, which happen to have a lot of poverty, a lot of people unemployed, not the best neighborhoods. And in that case, there's been a lot of discussion in Chicago, there's been some cuts to police budgets, for instance, and there seems to be a problem with inadequate police forces in some of these neighborhoods. And that's been a big discussion. But, again, you guys touched on something really important. You've got a lot of people out there who are trying to suggest that both the New York and Chicago, that this is the failure of guns laws. Both of those cities are, in fact, examples where the gun laws are so strict, the only people who have guns, are the bad guys. So, it's not that.

GIGOT: So, what about, Kim, how is gun control and this gun violence going to play at all in the upcoming elections? You have former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg come out and say he's going the spend millions against politicians who oppose gun control in the coming elections.

STRASSEL: He's going to need millions. It's a good think he has a lot of money.


Because you have not seen the dial move on this issue among the American public at all, even after the shootings, for instance, in Newtown, where those children were killed. I mean, the Bloomberg group now has this idea they're going to make all sitting incumbent politicians and those who are running fill out a big survey to explain how they feel, and the view seems to be that this is going to pigeonhole some people to then change their votes on gun control because they'll be embarrassed of their position. What's happening, though, Paul, the people who are going to feel the most awkward in doing this are, in fact, a lot of Democrats because they hail --

GIGOT: Right.

STRASSEL: -- from states where gun rights are, in fact, very popular among their constituents, and they've been the ones that have been most eager to avoid some these votes in Congress that have been pushed by gun control advocates.

GIGOT: All right, Kim, we'll watch this.

We'll take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.


GIGOT: Time now for "Hits and Misses" of the week.

Kim, first to you.

STRASSEL: A miss to Sarah Palin and others who are now calling on Republicans to impeach President Obama. I feel their frustration, Paul. I really do. But talk about giving the left everything they could possibly hope for, I mean, politicize this thorny question of whether or not the president's behavior, bad as it has been, rises to the level or high crimes. This is going to energize the Democratic base. It's going to allow the left to claim this really is a personal issue between Republicans and the president and, thereby, get the Democrat Party off the hook for all of their terrible governance and policies. If they really want to send a stinging rebuke to the White House, Republicans will focus on taking back the Senate this fall.

GIGOT: All right, Kim, thanks.


O'GRADY: A hit to the Federal Reserve under the leadership of Chairman Janet Yellen for agreeing to end their bond-buying program, otherwise known as quantitative easing in October. Now there's no word yet on what they plan to do about the quadrupling of the balance sheets before this crazy thing started, but at least it's a step in the right direction.



KAMINSKI: Paul, every sports fan and many people know, Germany thrashed Brazil, 7-1, in the World Cup semi-final, a stunning defeat. But here's a hit to fans of both teams. The Brazilians, even as they were crying watching this, started to applaud because the Brazilians know, more than anyone, when they see beautiful soccer, they call football, being played. And to the Germans, who were quite reserved in their applause, and even where discomfited that Germany scored so many goals. As a story in "The Journal" said, one fan said, 4-0 would have been enough.

GIGOT: Who are you picking in the final?

KAMINSKI: I have money riding on Germany.

GIGOT: You have --


GIGOT: Mary?

O'GRADY: I want Germany to win.

GIGOT: All right. OK.


GIGOT: And remember, if you have your own "Hit or Miss," please send it to us at And be sure to follow us on Twitter, @jeronfnc.

That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel, and especially to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. Hope to see you right here next week.

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