News / USA

US Lawmakers Clash Over Fate of Children Crossing Border

US Lawmakers Clash Over the Fate of Children Crossing the Borderi
X
July 17, 2014 2:15 AM
U.S. lawmakers are clashing over whether Congress needs to make changes to a law signed in 2008 to protect child victims of sex-trafficking. The "William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection" act is now providing the legal foundation to halt the immediate deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America who are crossing the border into the United States. VOA’s Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill.
Cindy Saine

U.S. lawmakers are clashing over whether Congress needs to make changes to a law signed in 2008 to protect child victims of sex-trafficking. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection act is now providing the legal foundation to halt the immediate deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America who are crossing the border into the United States. Most Republicans and some Democrats are calling for changes to the law to speed up the deportation process at the border, but others want the law -- and its protections for children -- to stay in place.

As unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras continue to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, debate is heating up in the U.S. Congress about what to do with them. Republicans are blaming Democratic President Barack Obama.

“At the end of the day, this is the president’s border crisis. I believe it was his statements and his encouragement that has led to this humanitarian crisis," said Congressman Tim Huelskamp.

The president says he is looking for solutions, and has asked Congress for $ 3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the border crisis. But some lawmakers say they will not give the president a blank check, and are calling for changes to the 2008 law.

“The first thing we need to do is to change the 2008 law. The intent of the law was not to help the children that are coming to the border right now, but to help children in sex-trafficking cases,” said Republican Congressman Raul Labrador.

Most Democrats disagree, including Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

“That we should give children of any country, contiguous or non-contiguous at least due process rights, because these are children, who in actuality, have fled violence, or human trafficking or sex trafficking, and they are sometimes unable to articulate that in a short period of time,” said Lee.

Proposed new legislation would treat Central American children the same as children from Mexico -- giving all of them a chance to appear before a judge, if they pass an initial screening by border patrol agents. Republican Senator John Cornyn is one of the authors of the bill.

“We need to have immigration laws that protect these children and all of us. And it does not mean that anybody and everybody under every circumstance can qualify to come to the United States and stay. That's simply an invitation to chaos,” said Cornyn.

A shortage of immigration judges is a big part of the problem, according to Doris Meissner of the Migration Policy Institute.

“The fact that the law offers protections to young people of an immigration hearing, and that the immigration hearings and small numbers of judges that are available in the system, that is what is contributing to long delays in the process of making the decisions,” said Meissner.

Some children and their mothers have already been returned to Honduras. Meissner said safety is a concern.

“Now of course we do return people to these countries on a regular basis, but they are adults. And we have not been returning kids to these countries," Meissner continued.

Pope Francis has also commented on the border crisis, saying the U.S. should welcome and protect the migrant children from Central America.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid