Bipartisan legislation would enable the United States to close a gap in immigration law that allows children from Central America to enter the country illegally, Sen. John Cornyn, one of the bill's sponsors, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
The legislation would allow Border Patrol agents to turn immigrant minors around when they cross into the United States without being required to hold a hearing, a process that could take years because of the backlogged immigration system.
"The biggest problem is the cartels have figured out this gap in the law, which basically allows children and individual adults with children to get what's called a Notice to Appear, sometimes called a Notice to Disappear," Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said Tuesday.
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Cornyn said lawmakers were concerned that the number of children coming to the United States would double next year from the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed the border since October. He said the situation would "get worse unless we solve this problem."
Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, the bill's Democratic sponsor, told "Morning Joe" the purpose of the legislation is to "treat the kids with care, but, at the same time, stem this wave coming in." He said the House is going to work to address the issue without delay.
"Certainly on the House side, we're going to try to do our best to move this quickly. We've got to do this before July 31, when we take off for our districts," he said.
Cuellar said he met with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday and outlined the proposed legislation. He said Johnson told him it appeared they were "on the same page."
"There is a commitment from Secretary Johnson. We want to work with the administration, Democrats, and Republicans to find a practical solution to a humanitarian crisis that we have that has homeland security implications," Cuellar said.
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