The crisis of thousands of illegal migrants attempting to enter the United States – many of them unaccompanied minors – drags on into its third month. According to a recent Gallup Poll, immigration is now cited by Americans as the nation’s most important issue.
Some in Washington want to do something to end the flood of illegal immigrants pouring across the border. Others want to appear to be doing something to stem the flow. President Obama falls into the latter category. His request for $3.7 billion to address the crisis (that his own policies helped create) is more about managing the problem than solving it. House leaders have already vowed that they are not about to hand the president a blank check while he continues to undermine immigration enforcement. As such, several Republican bills under consideration that would serve as an alternative to the president’s supplemental spending request include:
1. The HUMANE Act: The Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), would end the disparity in treatment between minors from contiguous countries (Canada and Mexico) and non-contiguous ones. The bill would require that all minors get a hearing before a judge within one week and a judicial decision within 72 hours of the hearing. Those found not to have a valid claim of admission would be returned.
However, the HUMANE Act includes a huge flaw. Under the bill, any minor who arrived between January 1, 2013 and the date of enactment would be able to file a motion to get either his notice to appear or final order of removal expunged. The bill then allows the illegal alien minors to immediately apply for admission to the U.S. – without going home and without any penalties. In other words, the bill would exacerbate the backlog of cases and create further delays in carrying out removals.
2. The CREST Act: The Children Returning on an Expedited and Safe Timeline is sponsored by Arizona Republicans, John McCain and Jeff Flake. While the bill would treat minors from all countries equally, it would also make up to 5,000 additional refugee applications available for each of the three primary sending countries – Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
3. The House Leadership Recommendations: Released yesterday, the working group established by Boehner, released “recommendations” rather than legislation. Not only do they ignore the problem of Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals amnesty program, but they also incorporate parts of the Cornyn-Cuellar HUMANE Act and include the Republican border security bill that fails to secure the border.
The bill, H.R. 1417, sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee mirrors the border security provisions of the Senate amnesty bill, S.744. The bill establishes no useful metrics for measuring border security and no consequences for failing to secure the border. Worse yet, the legislation could be used as the basis for a House-Senate conference on the amnesty provisions of S.744.
4. The Protection of Children Act: This bill, sponsored by Representatives John Carter (R-Texas), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), is the most promising of the bills intended to end the border crisis. The legislation would treat all minors equally, no matter where they come from and would increase the amount of time they could remain in custody. It would also discourage illegal alien parents from claiming their children by requiring that the immigration status of the parents or guardians be investigated. This legislation is supported by FAIR.
5. Senator Cruz Introduces Bill to Repeal DACA: Republican Senator Ted Cruz has introduced legislation that would stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Yesterday, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced companion legislation in the House.
DACA is the Obama administration’s program, created through a policy memo, that grants deferred action to illegal aliens who claim they arrived in the U.S. as minors. His straightforward, two-page bill provides that no “agency or instrumentality” of the federal government may use government money or resources to:
(1) Consider, adjudicate any new or previously denied DACA application; or
(2) Authorize any alien to work in the U.S. if such alien was not lawfully admitted into the U.S. under federal law and is not “in lawful status” in the United States on the day of enactment.
In a statement upon introducing his bill, Senator Cruz made it clear that President Obama’s immigration policies, including DACA, were the cause of our current border crisis. “Since his unilateral action in 2012 to implement DACA,” Cruz said, “the numbers of children arriving in the U.S. illegally – transported by dangerous criminals and drug cartels eager to exploit President Obama’s amnesty – predictably exploded…”
He also offered the following facts:
- In 2011, approximately 6,000 unaccompanied minors came to the United States.
- In 2012, when President Obama issued DACA, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States rose to 14,000.
- In 2013, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States rose to 34,000.
- In 2014, Customs and Border Protection estimated 90,000 unaccompanied minors may be apprehended.
- In 2014, the Obama Administration has stated it expects 145,000 unaccompanied minors to enter the United States.
It is unclear at this point whether any of these bills can win approval in both the House and Senate. The same partisan difference and special interest demands could potentially stand in the way of ending an illegal immigration crisis that poses myriad security, health and fiscal risks to the American people.