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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs