Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor George Will has long been an advocate for immigration reform, including a conservative version of a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, for some time, but he took his position a bit further Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday. Referring to the influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border from Mexico and other Central American countries — over 52,000 since last October — Will told host Chris Wallace that the United States should welcome these children with open arms.
“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans,’” Will implored. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”
Wallace warned that detractors will accuse Will of not understanding the issue, but he was undeterred. “We can handle this problem, is what I’m saying,” he reassured. “We’ve handled what Emma Lazarus famously called ‘the wretched refuse of your teeming shores’ a long time ago and a lot more people than this.”
Watch it (via The Huffington Post):
On Friday, President Obama told Central American leaders that “children who do not have proper claims and families with children who do not have proper claims at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries.” The administration is considering, however, extending refugee status to young people coming from Honduras.
In the meantime, the Obama administration has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. The House and Senate have proposed competing bills, neither of which is expected to pass before the August recess.
Will made his comments in response to USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, who similarly called out congressional Republicans for only being willing to discuss immigration reform when “it comes to deporting children.”