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Congress to Focus on US Border Crisis

Congress to Focus on US Border Crisisi
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Michael Bowman
July 13, 2014 7:49 PM
Clues could emerge this week whether America’s politically-divided Congress will approve funds requested by President Barack Obama to address a surge of immigrants illegally crossing the southwestern U.S. border. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Obama wants nearly $4 billion to hold and more quickly process tens of thousands of children arriving primarily from Central America, and to boost federal resources at America’s long border with Mexico.
Michael Bowman

Clues could emerge this week whether America’s politically divided Congress will approve funds requested by President Barack Obama to address a surge of immigrants illegally crossing the southwestern U.S. border.

It is a situation everyone agrees is intolerable: unaccompanied minors risking their lives to reach the United States, warehoused in overcrowded detention facilities, and ineligible under current U.S. law for quick deportation to their country of origin.

Virginia Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte said tougher border enforcement must come first.

“We should do targeted appropriations where it is needed to make sure that we are able to detain people and send them back to their country," Goodlatte said.

"Most of the money the president is asking for is to continue the process of further transporting these children - and adults, by the way - further into the United States," he said.

But a security surge at the border alone will not solve the problem, because U.S. law mandates immigration hearings for non-Mexican arrivals.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “The immigration laws are being enforced, though we are faced with an extraordinary situation where thousands of people, young people especially, are fleeing Central America. 

"Our immigration laws are broken. It is why we need comprehensive immigration reform," Holder added.

Last year, the Senate approved an overhaul of America’s immigration system to boost border enforcement and provide an arduous path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. 

The Republican-led House of Representatives has not voted on the Senate bill or any alternative.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn blamed Obama for the current border crisis.

“There is a powerful incentive for people to travel to the United States. Obviously we understand people who want opportunity, people who are trying to flee violence," Cornyn said.

"But the president has effectively encouraged children and their parents to make this treacherous, life-threatening journey by suggesting he will not enforce the law," he added.

Such criticisms are baseless so long as Congress does nothing, said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.

“It is easy to say 'No.'  It is far more difficult to be constructive.  And so far what I have heard in response to this crisis is the negativity of ‘No’, the criticism of the president for using executive powers when the Congress fails to act in its own right," Menendez said.

"You cannot have it both ways. This is a moment to call for the greater interest of the nation, [rather] than play the politics I have seen unfold so far," he said.

Time is growing short for action on Obama's funding request. Congress will be in recess from early August through early September.

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by: g. potchebski from: california
July 13, 2014 5:25 PM
Why can't we go back to having immigrants pass through Ellis Island, just as my grandparents and others did so many years ago. It seems that this method worked for everyone; why can't we try this again?
In Response

by: EddieBrown from: NYC
July 13, 2014 8:38 PM
Because the purpose of immigration would still be to maintain a rational influx level of an enormous amount of humanity around the globe that desires to live and work in a stable, developed nation. So,regardless of where or how newly arriving immigrants are processed legally, there would still be a faction of people who, for practical reasons would be denied entry and therefore choose to ignore the law and enter illegally. Put simply, how they enter does not solve the problem of too many wanting to enter.

by: robertsgt40 from: texas
July 13, 2014 4:48 PM
How about focusing on upholding the Constitution and rule of law and secure our border?
In Response

by: EddieBrown from: NYC
July 13, 2014 8:39 PM
A rational request, indeed.
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