House Speaker John Boehner said he wants to work out by the end of this week a Republican proposal to address the thousands of children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Boehner told reporters today he is waiting for House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers to examine President Barack Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to cope with the surge of unaccompanied children.
“I expect by the end of this week we’ll have some answers,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said today in Washington.
Republicans in the House and Senate are discussing legislation to speed deportations of the children by changing a 2008 law intended to protect them from sex trafficking.
Two Texas lawmakers have said they will introduce a proposal today. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, said in a statement yesterday they will outline a plan to amend the 2008 law.
Separately, a working group headed by Texas Republican Representative Kay Granger will make its recommendations today or tomorrow, she said.
Granger, who visited Central America over the weekend, said many Latin American parents are under the impression their children will be given asylum once they reach the U.S. border.
“There is no doubt the message went out: go across the border, the United States won’t do anything about it,” she told reporters today.
Rogers said today that he plans to incorporate the group’s recommendations into the proposed legislation. Representative Mike McCaul, a Texas Republican, said a proposal would be made to House Republicans on July 22.
While a number of congressional Democrats oppose changing the 2008 law, Obama supports it. Republicans including Senator John McCain of Arizona say it’s a priority as the U.S. tries to stem the flow of migrant children.
“If you come to our country illegally, you will be sent back,” McCain, who is also drafting legislation, said July 13 on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Obama requested the emergency funding last week to help officials deal with the influx that has strained resources along much of the southern border.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border from Oct. 1 through June 15, about double the total in a similar period a year earlier, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said July 11 that $3.7 billion was “too much” and that his chamber probably won’t provide all of it.
Today, Boehner underscored that point, saying Republicans will “scrub” the request.
The proposal by Cornyn and Cuellar on child deportations would allow U.S. agents to turn back Central American children arriving at the border. It would provide a court hearing for those who don’t voluntarily return to their home country, said Cornyn spokeswoman Megan Mitchell.
“It’s going to get worse unless we solve this problem,” Cornyn told MSNBC today in an interview.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said last week that quickly turning children away would deny legal representation to those fleeing violence and poverty.
About three-fourths of the children arriving at the U.S. border came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Under current law, the unaccompanied children must be handed over to the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours.
In addition to reviewing the 2008 law, Granger’s working group is considering a recommendation to overturn Obama’s 2012 directive to stop deporting children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas said last week.
--With assistance from Greg Giroux, Roger Runningen, James Rowley and Richard Rubin in Washington.
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