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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More