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US Lawmakers Press for Solution to Border Crisis

US Begins Deporting Undocumented Minors From Southern Borderi
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July 16, 2014 4:05 AM
The United States has begun deporting some of the Central American children who have crossed the U.S. border from Mexico without documents, and many of them without parents. U.S. President Barack Obama pledged earlier this month to speed up the process of returning the children to their home countries, after the number of arrivals created a humanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico. The problem has sparked intense political debate in Washington. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Watch related video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke.
Michael Bowman

Bipartisan support appears to be growing on Capitol Hill to promptly address a growing immigration crisis along the southern U.S. border. Senate lawmakers agree a surge of undocumented underage arrivals must end, but the precise remedy and funding required to achieve it remain a point of contention.

Bipartisanship and swift action are rarities in Congress, which is considering a request from President Barack Obama for nearly $4 billion to care for and process tens of thousands of undocumented minors, and to boost federal resources along the 3,200-kilometer U.S.-Mexico border.

Republicans control the House of Representatives and can block or delay votes in the Senate; but, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, had this to say when asked if Congress should act before a month-long August recess.

“I hope so, because I think the humanitarian needs are great,” he said.

Urgency needed

That view is echoed by Democratic Senator Tom Carper, who says, “It is something we should do before the August recess.”

Both senators say a 2008 law signed by then-president George W. Bush assuring immigration hearings for most underage arrivals is untenable, given the sheer number of minors arriving from primarily Central American nations. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham agrees.

He says, “The 2008 law was designed to deal with children from China and other places that come here as sex slaves, to make sure we do not send them right back [to their countries of origin]. Clearly, the immigrants coming from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are of the belief that if you can get here, you can stay.”

One proposal put forth by a Republican senator and a Democratic House member would drastically limit the time frame for an undocumented minor to make a case to remain in the United States as a refugee.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez fears such a change would cause untold numbers of new arrivals with legitimate immigration claims to be denied justice.

“You cannot, in 72 hours, make a case that your father got murdered in front of you," he said. "You cannot make a case that a gang told you, ‘Join us or die’ if you do not have the time to produce documents, affidavits, certificates, or whatnot.”

Directing dollars

Other points of disagreement concern precisely how much money should be spent for what purpose. Graham said funds are needed to address humanitarian needs at the border, but added that he will not vote to approve billions of dollars until policy concerns are addressed.

Carper fears no U.S. solution will work so long as violence and poverty remain endemic in Central America.

Carper said, “Why are parents [in Central America] willing to send 8-, 9-, 10-year-old unaccompanied children 1,500 miles into a foreign country? The reason why is the lives of those families in Honduras, many of them, are hell holes. And so they are voting with their feet.”

For now, Obama and members of his Cabinet are stressing that undocumented minors have no automatic right to remain in the United States, and hoping the message is heard in Central America. Administration critics say Obama is at least partly to blame for the border crisis, given his recently stated intention to do what he can to address America’s immigration challenges though executive action.

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Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 15, 2014 10:22 PM
The number one prioritty should be to re-join the children and parents; whereever they are located.
Crossing the border, is an breaks the laws, have the international protocols wrt reporting the individuals and having the country of origin pay the costs, if any, incurred by their citizens, from the consular services? Have the countries of origin provided the required help to their citizens? .....

In Response

by: Sue from: USA
July 19, 2014 9:40 AM
I disagree. The parents should be arrested for child abuse and neglect for endangering their childrens lives. We here in America have laws to protect our children not send them to be unsupervised by drug cartels where they are killed, raped and sold into slavery. These parents at all and just are looking for a way to stay here themselves and sponge off the system.

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