News / USA

Despite Surge in Child Immigrants, US Immigration Reform Stalls

FILE - This June 18, 2014, file photo shows children detainees sleeping in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas.
FILE - This June 18, 2014, file photo shows children detainees sleeping in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas.
Cindy Saine

A year after the United States Senate passed comprehensive immigration legislation, a leading Democratic advocate for reform says efforts to get similar laws passed in the House of Representatives have failed and he is giving up. 

Debate on the issue now focuses on a surge of unaccompanied children from Central America coming into the United States, with lawmakers from both parties blaming each other for the crisis.

Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez has been trying for months to get House Republicans to sit down with Democrats to agree on immigration reform legislation. Republicans say they cannot trust President Barack Obama to enforce current laws, however, and have not allowed a vote.

Gutierrez this week took to the House floor, and said he is giving Republicans a red card.

"First of all your chance to play a role in how immigration and deportation policies are carried out this year is over. Having been given ample time and space to craft legislation, you failed,” he said.

Unlikely passage

Many analysts say there is little chance of immigration reform getting through this year. 

“I think especially for the rest of this year with the midterm elections coming up, the chances are incredibly slim of them actually taking action. But the topic is not going to go away and the debate is not going to go away by any means,” said Emily Ethridge, with the congressional news and analysis outlet CQ-Roll Call.

Now, however, congressional anger is flaring in response to a surge of 52,000 children from Central America who have made the journey through Mexico to illegally enter the United States. The children are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they are filling holding centers along the border with Mexico.  

Republicans blame President Obama for the flow, because of what they consider lenient immigration policies.

“It is for President Obama to make a public appearance to walk back his continued flouting of U.S. immigration and border security policy, and tell the world that the United States will protect its borders, while discouraging families from risking their lives and the lives of their children unnecessarily,” said Republican Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona.

In an interview with ABC News, President Obama said he has a message for parents in Central America: "do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may [or] may not make it.”

Human smugglers

Political analysts say desperate parents in the three violence-plagued Central American countries often pay smuggling rings to transport their children in buses or on top of trains to the U.S. Democratic and Republican lawmakers agree that human smugglers and drug cartels are spreading misinformation by saying the children will be given permission to stay.  

Democrats blamed House Republicans for the crisis because they have not allowed a vote on immigration reform.

“The fact is that if we had passed either the Senate or the House bill, there were resources for both border security, international cooperation and it would have outlined a path for clear legal migration to this country,” said Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro.

Both sides agree that the plight of children, many of them girls under the age of 13, arriving alone, exhausted and hungry at the U.S. border is a humanitarian crisis.

Emily Ethridge said Congress is likely to appropriate more money for the U.S. border control authorities to help the children.

“So the amount of money that the administration needs to find these children, apprehend them, put them in shelters, take care of them, put them through legal proceedings - they just need way more money.  And so Congress is definitely going to give more money for that," Ethridge said.

Unaccompanied children from Central America are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, and given a court date to decide their fate. Many of the children end up being reunited with family members already in the United States, but some are deported.


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Comment Sorting
by: Way to go America from: Minnesota
July 03, 2014 9:51 AM
Amazingly we are suddenly hearing about violence in Honduras,Salvador... Where was the media to report that???How about to bring everybody from Syria,Irak,Nigeria,Congo....I believe there is a humanitarian crisis. One thing will fix the problem"E-verify".It is time for the government to stand up to these corporations.

by: Time2change from: Virginia
June 29, 2014 9:37 PM
As an immigrant who came here legally and became a naturalized citizen I believe that we need to make sure the politicians we elect enforce our laws and send illegals back to their countries. We have to start taking care of our own citizens. Children or not - if they came here illegally they need to go back to their home country.

by: David from: Chicago
June 28, 2014 12:11 PM
Many of the children end up being reunited with family members already in the United States, but some are deported.

This explains why they keep coming. The human traffickers are right when they tell the parents in Central America that if their kids manage to get into in the United States, they will be allowed to stay and the American welfare state will take care of their material needs. And the children will then later be able to bring their parents. It's a win/win proposition for the smugglers and the illegal immigrants. The tide will only increase so long as illegal immigration is rewarded.

by: Anonymous
June 28, 2014 10:27 AM
U.S. Constitution, Article 4 Section 4:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, AND SHALL PROTECT EACH OF THEM AGAINST INVASION.
Instead of upholding his sworn oath to protect the states against this invasion, our rogue president is aiding and assisting the invaders, by ordering the Border Patrol to NOT do their duty, but instead, to stand aside as our borders are trampled and overrun. In fact, the Border Patrol's function has been inverted, and they have become the babysitters and bus service to the invaders, sending tens of thousands of criminal aliens into the American heartland. Many Border Patrol agents have contracted TB and other diseases from these unscreened invaders. When will this travesty end? When will our rogue president be forced to uphold his sworn oath to protect the states against invasion?

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 28, 2014 3:51 AM
This is just another pathetic look into the 'real world' of US politics. Why hasn't Hollywood done a reality show with politicians? One good thing is that America, the country I love dearly, will not turn it's back on children. For every issue plaguing the USA, Republicans blame the Democrats; change the channel and the Democrats blame the Republicans. Will someone please call the Capitol Building and tell these morons that America is failing......because of THEM!!!!

One thing the Repubs are correct about is that the laws are already there, ENFORCE THEM!!! The Repubs also know that Democs want to pass bills that will gaurantee votership, regardless of the consequences on our already fledgling economy. If the Democs pass the laws they want, then it won't be just Central Americans fleeing to the US! China will say "wow, the US has surpassed our population numbers in just under a month!"

This is how the Democ machine is spinning this issue. Remember when Arizona passed a law that allowed law enforcement to check immigration status, if suspected. In other words, a policeperson (PC!) can pull a car over and ask for proof of citizenship or immigration status? California protested, even refused to allow Arizona Tea or Arizona sports teams across the border. CNN/NBC/MSNBC/BBC/TNT/MTV/M-O-U-S-E!, whatever, except for FOX News (of course!) blasted away at the Arizona governor because she was a Republican bully! (Check this one, what I am about to tell you, it's there for all to read!) North Carolina passed the SAME EXACT law at the SAME time as Arizona, but not a single peep from any of the communist (oooops, I mean Democrat) sympathizing channels made any mention of NC passing the SAME EXACT law. Why, you ask? NC is mostly Democ and the governor is Democ. No thanks if this seemed to be pro-Repub, can't stand to watch Fox News, yuk, all that uppity white-bread, but Kelly is hotttt! They blast away at the Democs, even though that party is run by incompetence. Repubs wanted Mitt Romney for prezzie? So that means the Repub party is definitely finished! Mitt Romney? It would have made more sense to vote for Jon Stewart, than Mitt!!!!!! Yeah, I'm a Reagan-ite, but Repub-bashing Jon Stewart is hilariously awesome!

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