President Barack Obama is asking Congress to provide $3.7 billion
to address the crisis at the border — but Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson says it's a proposal he can't support.
"I can't see how I can support this thing," Johnson told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
on Wednesday. "Just look at the numbers."
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"If you take $3.7 billion and divide it by 52,000 children, that's $71,000 per person," he explained.
"I've gone online and have taken a look on Orbitz and taken a look at what does it cost to fly people to El Salvador and Guatemala and Honduras," Johnson, a Republican, said. "You have fares as low as $207. There's nonstop flights at $450."
"You take those numbers and it costs somewhere between $11 million and $30 million to return people in a very humane fashion," Johnson said.
"We can put them up in a hotel room and make sure they get a shower and feed them," he added.
Johnson said this would be "a far easier way of handling" the situation, and it would also "send the signal to the folks in Central America that you can't come into America and expect to stay."
According to Johnson, "the best way to secure the border is to eliminate the incentives for illegal immigration," which is the opposite of what President Barack Obama has done.
"When we talk about a Dream Act, that creates an incentive," Johnson said. "When President Obama institutes his Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals and basically telling kids, 'Hey, when you get here we're not going to deport you,' that creates an incentive."
Johnson echoed the opinion of Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, who told Newsmax TV
that it would be difficult for the GOP to support spending billions on the immigration crisis if it did not include money to send child illegals home and secure the U.S. border.
"If a lot of this money simply goes to judges who are going to award asylum to these individuals and allow them to stay in the country, that's not something we favor," Smith told Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Tuesday.
But most of the money in the president's plan pays for apprehending, processing, and caring for illegal minors.
The president's plan includes:
- $1.1 billion more for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, including $879 million to pay for detention and removal of undocumented adults traveling with children;
- $116 million to ICE for transportation costs linked to apprehending unaccompanied children;
- $433 million for Homeland Security's Border Patrol unit to cover increased costs associated with apprehending unaccompanied children;
- $39.4 million to bolster air surveillance capabilities to detect illegal activity;
- $64 million more for the Department of Justice, including $45.4 million to hire about 40 more immigration judge teams and to expand courtroom capacity;
- $15 million to fund legal representation services for children in immigration proceedings;
- $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide additional funding for appropriate care, including medical attention, for unaccompanied children at Border Patrol facilities;
- $300 million for the Department of State, $295 million of which would go to repatriate migrants to their home countries and reintegrate them there;
- $5 million would fund media campaigns in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to spread the word that unaccompanied children crossing into the United States will be returned to their home countries.
House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday also criticized the president's plan to cope with the immigration crisis, saying it doesn't do enough to secure the border.
But Boehner is being noncommittal on whether the House would vote to approve the president's request. He will wait for recommendations from several committee chairs before deciding how to act.
Johnson said the Senate also passed a "comprehensive immigration bill that promise[d] $262 billion in welfare benefits to non-U.S. citizens, that creates an incentive," he added.
"We have to stop doing that," the Wisconsin senator said. "We have to tell the world that 'we are going to secure our border. You're not going to get benefits when you come to America and you're not going to be allowed to stay.'"
Johnson says that if the United States does not "send the signal that this is unacceptable ... more people are going to come."
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