The illegal immigration crisis has President Barack Obama under fire from a growing number of Democrats.
"They sure didn't check with me," Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin told Politico.
He slammed Obama for not checking with party members before supporting a change in a 2008 law to give the United States more authority to return illegal immigrants from Central America. Democrats bitterly oppose the change.
"I don't know who they checked with, but I just think it was kind of a quick reaction without really thinking about the humanitarian aspects of this," Harkin said.
He is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The law, signed by President George W. Bush shortly before leaving office, sought to protect minors from human trafficking.
But it has created another issue, Politico reports: Illegal immigrants from Central America could end up staying in the United States for years waiting for a hearing in immigration court because of huge backlogs. Children from Mexico and Canada are guaranteed a court date and can be repatriated more quickly.
Republicans want the 2008 law changed and have said that it is critical to their approving Obama's $3.7 billion emergency funding request to address the crisis.
Several top Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, oppose any modifications to the law. They say the current law gives Obama some discretion under its "exceptional circumstances" provisions to speed up deportation of illegal immigrants, Politico reports.
"I don't think necessarily the president knew all the prerogatives he has under existing" law, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who represents New Jersey, said at a closed-door meeting on Wednesday with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
According to Politico, the Democrats charged at the session that changing the law would create an unnecessary division on a highly charged issue during an election year in which the Republicans could retake the Senate.
They also have said privately that the White House should have let Congress deal with the issue to give the administration political cover rather than allow Obama to use executive authority to address the crisis, Politico reports.
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