A House of Representatives Republican working group unveiled its proposal Wednesday for stemming the flow of unescorted minors who trying to enter the United States illegally from the southern border.
Members of the group briefed the House’s Republican caucus about their plan at a closed-door meeting. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the plan calls for deploying the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol ‘in the humanitarian care and needs of unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.’
It also seeks to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008, a law that bolstered protection for children from countries other than Canada and Mexico who enter the U.S. unaccompanied. The working group’s proposal would treat the thousands of children who are trying to enter the U.S. illegally from several Central American countries the same as Mexican children for the purpose of removal.
‘This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in (Department of Health and Human Services) custody while they await expedited immigration court hearings that must occur not more than seven days after they are screened by child welfare officials,’ according to the working group.
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The White House has voiced support for making changes in the trafficking act, a move that congressional Democrats oppose.
In addition amending the traficking act, the Republican working groups wants to deploy additional judges to the border to expedite the hearings of those seeking asylum in the U.S.
‘Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system,’ the working group said in its list of proposals. ‘Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing fro those with legitimate claims.’
It was unclear Wednesday how soon the Republican-controled House would take up the working group’s proposal and whether the House could reach agreement with the Democratic-controled Senate on borders issue before Congress adjourns Aug. 1 for a five-week recess.
President Barack Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the border crisis. Boehner said the House would seek to authorize $1.5 billion for increased border security and National Guard deployments.
‘Listen, I’d like to act,’ Boehner told reporters. ‘We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border that has to be dealt with...the president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own. But I do believe that the Congress should act, and I’m hopeful that we will.’