Rep. Darrell Issa and 32 other Republican House members sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding he stop illegal immigration at the border now and to make clear that such migrants would be returned to their countries of origin.
"As our country faces an unprecedented surge in the arrival of unaccompanied alien children at our southwestern border, we call on you to immediately end the failed policies that encourage young individuals to put themselves in peril, leave their home countries, and make a long and dangerous journey to enter our country illegally," the Republicans said in their letter
"As Congress considers legislative proposals to ensure our system is reserved for deserving applicants, we urge you to cooperate with congressional leaders to provide accurate data on the recent surge and work for legislative reforms that ensure the safe repatriation of these minor children to family members in their home countries and provide the commitment necessary to secure our border."
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children
have been detained entering the U.S. illegally — with many of them coming from Mexico and such Central American countries as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Republicans have charged that what Obama has described as "a humanitarian crisis" has come about because of the administration's lax enforcement of immigration policies.
They also have cited reports in Central American media touting administration deportation policies that benefit some illegals, particularly "Dreamers" who were brought here as children by their parents and have remained in the United States.
Last month, Obama extended deferrals of such undocumented migrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program for two more years.
By law, illegals arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents must be transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of their arrest.
The migrants are detained at shelters until they can be reunited with family members while awaiting to appear in immigration court. Several detention centers have been created at military bases in Texas, Oklahoma and California.
The temporary housing costs taxpayers $252 per child per day.
Over the weekend, five cases of the H1N1 flu strain
were confirmed in illegal immigrant minors housed in detention centers in Texas.
Obama said on Monday
that he would take executive action to reform the nation's immigration system after hopes of passing legislation in Congress officially died.
House Speaker John Boehner told Obama last week that the lower chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed last year by the Senate would become law.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was touring detention centers in Texas on Wednesday with other members of another House panel that he sits on, the Judiciary Committee.
Among the legislators signing the Issa letter were Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas; Sam Graves of Missouri; Gus Bilirakis of Florida; and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
In another development on the immigration front, Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine sent out a blistering news release
after a security guard denied him access the previous day to a detention center holding 1,200 illegal minors at the Fort Sill Army Base in the Sooner State.
Bridenstine said the guard told him that he would have to schedule a visit through HHS for July 21.
Located in Lawton, about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, Fort Sill began housing illegals earlier this month.
Republicans from the state were outraged after Obama administration officials gave them less than a week's notice that the migrants would be sent there after being arrested at the U.S. border in South Texas.
"What are they trying to hide?" Bridenstine charged in the news release from his office. "Do they not want the children to speak with members of Congress?
"As a Navy pilot, I have been involved in operations countering illicit human trafficking," he said. "I would like to know to whom these children are being released."
Bridenstine said he was told to send a query to Kenneth Wolfe, an HHS deputy director in the Office of Public Affairs.
Wolfe responded to the query on Tuesday, saying he would pass it on to legislative officials within the agency for approval, a Bridenstine aide told Newsmax.
In an email to Newsmax, Wolfe's HHS unit, the Administration for Children and Families, said the agency has been "facilitating tours of our temporary shelters … as frequently as possible without disrupting our ability to properly care for the children as part of this humanitarian situation.
"In addition to four media tours, HHS has provided five tours for approximately 55 local, state, and federal elected officials who had requested the opportunity to observe the facilities, meet the staff, and interact with the children.
"We will continue to schedule these tours of temporary shelters on a regular basis with any officials who request them," the statement said.
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