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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid