News / USA

US Senate Advances Bill to Address Border Crisis

Senate Republican leaders, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, meet with reporters, at the Capitol in Washington, July 29, 2014.
Senate Republican leaders, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, meet with reporters, at the Capitol in Washington, July 29, 2014.
Michael Bowman

The U.S. Senate has voted to begin debate on a bill authorizing funds to house and process tens of thousands of undocumented Central American minors arriving at America’s southern border with Mexico. The bill faces further hurdles in the Democratic-controlled chamber and has virtually no chance of passage in the Republican-led House of Representatives, casting doubt on congressional action days before lawmakers adjourn for a five-week recess.

The Senate bill would provide most of the $3.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama to address humanitarian, judicial and law enforcement needs along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said the funds are urgently needed as Central American youths continue a perilous journey to the United States.

“President Obama has asked for resources to care for these children, to place them, to give them the right of seeking asylum if they can make that legal claim and, if not, to return them, humanely, to the countries they came from,” he said.

Watch related video by VOA's Greg Flakus from Houston

Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debatei
X
Greg Flakus
July 30, 2014 11:28 PM
Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.


Supplemental funds

The bill also would provide supplemental funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and boost federal resources to fight wildfires raging in several western U.S. states.

The Senate legislation contrasts sharply with a House bill that would provide a fraction of the funding, most of which would be used to boost U.S. border enforcement. The House proposal also would amend a 2008 law that entitles most underage undocumented arrivals to an immigration hearing.

Republican Senator John Cornyn said the law has served as a magnet for Central American youths, and the Senate bill does nothing to address the underlying cause of the crisis.

“As long as this magnet continues to exist, they will keep coming. It is the opposite of compassion to allow this loophole [in U.S. law] to exist,” he said.

Democrats counter that Central Americans are fleeing violence and lawlessness in their home countries, and that curtailing the legal rights of new arrivals will lead to the deportation of immigrants with legitimate asylum claims.

Stalemate politics

“We can address the humanitarian crisis without watering down our law." said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. "We do not have to turn our backs on our own basic values as Americans.”

Final passage of House or Senate bills is far from assured, and even if approved, both would almost certainly be voted down in the opposing chamber.

The stalemate illuminates yet again the challenge of getting a politically-divided, ideologically-polarized Congress to act -- even in the face of a situation lawmakers universally decry as intolerable.

On the broader topic of reforming America’s oft-criticized immigration system, many Republicans see Obama’s pledge to bypass Congress and act on his own as an abuse of power, a violation of existing immigration law, and a step toward a de facto open border policy. Democrats, including the president, point out that the Republican-led House has refused to vote on a Senate-approved overhaul of immigration laws that would have addressed a variety of ills, including the current border crisis.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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