Sen. Susan Collins, following a visit last week to Texas, put the blame for the ongoing crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border on President Barack Obama.

While assigning fault, however, Maine’s senior senator should look instead to her colleagues in the House of Representatives. It is House Republicans who have resisted reasonable attempts to quell the current crisis, and it is House Republicans who refuse to reform an immigration system that succeeds only at filling detention centers and court dockets.

The hardline stance, meant to grab votes for tea party Republicans in advance of the November elections, comes at just the time when the border crisis is making the need for immigration reform clear.

Instead, it is once again the victim of congressional gridlock, though not at the hands of President Obama and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

FUNDING BLOCKED

The president has asked for funding to help deal with thousands of unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, who have crossed the Texas border illegally. He’s also used the crisis as an opportunity to once again push for some version of the Senate bill.

In the Senate, the parties have remained open to a compromise, negotiating a bill that whittled down the president’s request for $3.7 billion to $2.7 billion, with funding to speed up the legal process for immigrant children and to take care of them while they are here. That bill was scuttled, however, when it became clear it would not survive the House.

For their part, House Republicans support a spending package for the current crisis that is far less than the president’s request, and they are calling for deportations without due process, as well as the removal of protections for immigrant children fleeing violence.

Those provisions may play to their base, but they do nothing to solve the immediate crisis or immigration problems in general, and the Republicans know they doom the bill.

Congress adjourned last Friday for a five-week vacation just after the House voted on the bills. The proposals won’t be reviewed by the Senate until September, and neither has any hope of passing.

Without action from Congress, Obama has taken steps to stop the flow of Central American immigrants to the Texas border. With some help from the summer weather, which typically cuts down on border crossing activities, those actions appear to be working.

The number of unaccompanied immigrant children detained in the United States fell to 500 per week by mid-July, down from 2,000 per week in June. Three emergency shelters created to house the children – in Oklahoma, Texas and California – will close soon.

But even as evidence suggests the crisis is subsiding, the poverty and desperation in Central America make it likely that it will flare up again. And while the crisis received a lot of attention, it merely exacerbated an already growing problem.

The caseload at the country’s 59 immigration courts has more than doubled in the last 15 years. According to Syracuse University, more than 375,000 immigration cases are pending, and the average case takes 578 days to adjudicate. There are also more than 11 million undocument residents.

ROOM FOR COMPROMISE

That issue is not going away, unless Congress and the president can agree on reform.

Fortunately, there is a room for compromise. Most reasonable policymakers want an immigration system that protects the country’s border while offering a path to citizenship for immigrants, whether they are fleeing poverty and violence or simply hoping to use their skills and talents in the United States.

House Republicans, however, stand in the way of that compromise, and for good reason – without reform, they can capitalize on the next border crisis, too.