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home : opinions September 24, 2016

7/22/2014 1:31:00 PM
Angry impasse threatens border solution

Byron York

After more than a year of contentious debate, could Congress be any more divided over the issue of immigration? The answer is yes.

In the House, positions are hardening over what to do about the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied young immigrants illegally crossing the southwestern border into the United States.

On one side are Republicans, and a few Democrats, who support changing a 2008 law that makes it impossible to quickly return the young immigrants to their home countries.

On the other side is the House Democratic leadership, which after an initial period of waffling is now dead-set against such a change.

The House could quickly be headed toward a situation in which one side's top priority is the other side's deal-killer.

The 2008 law, formally known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, is a measure originally passed to fight sex trafficking of minors.

For young people who come to the United States illegally from non-contiguous countries -- that is, from anywhere other than Canada or Mexico -- the law establishes an elaborate and very lengthy procedure in which the federal government is required to house the child, bring in experts to determine the child's best interest, unite the child with any family members in the U.S., pay for the child's legal representation and more -- and only then, years later, to determine whether the child has an actual legal right to be in this country.

If, on the other hand, the child has come to the United States from Mexico -- a contiguous country -- he or she can be returned within 72 hours.

One obvious fix for the current crisis would be to allow the government to treat children from Central America the same way the law allows officials to treat children from Mexico now.

That change is expected to be the centerpiece of a report from the House Republican immigration working group, appointed June 24 by Speaker John Boehner.

"I don't know how you can address the problem down there without looking at the '08 law," Boehner told reporters recently. "I don't know how Congress can send more money to the border to begin to mitigate the problem if you don't do something about the '08 law that's being abused -- and it is being abused."

Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, who is heading the working group, told a Dallas TV station that "the first thing we need to do" is to change the 2008 law.

To many Democrats, however, that is the last thing we need to do. "I do not believe they need a change in legislation to more expeditiously provide due process for all of the children," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said recently. "I think this can be done under current law with the proper resources."

Pelosi's answer to the border influx is to provide more money to care for the illegal immigrants, plus more money for judges to handle their cases, and then more money for lawyers to represent the immigrants before those judges. The goal is to keep as many of the illegal border crossers as possible in the United States -- and not return them to Central America.

"If you have a lawyer -- we have a survey now -- 50 percent of the time, the child can stay in the U.S.," Pelosi said. "If you don't have a lawyer, one in 10 times you can stay in the U.S. So representation is important."

Pelosi's position is shared by many House Democrats, and particularly by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which Pelosi said is taking a leading role in shaping Democratic policy on the crisis. (Caucus members have declared their support for safeguarding the immigrants' "legal rights to due process provided under our current laws.")

The question is whether some Democrats, particularly those from red states facing difficult re-election fights, might break with their party's leadership and support a change in the 2008 law.

Boehner needs their help. Even if a border bill includes a change, some Republicans will oppose it on grounds that it's too expensive.

That means the speaker will need Democratic votes to pass the bill. It's not clear whether he'll have enough.

"I would certainly hope so," Boehner said when asked whether he believes a bill can be passed by next month. "But I don't have as much optimism as I'd like to have."

(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Good point, Mr. To-me. As I recall, the age of independence in Viet Nam was around ten.

BTW, speaking of "investigate," the Chairman of the AZ Senate Health and Safety Committee, Chester Crandell, went down to check out the situation (carefully avoiding all yellow buses) and found that the villa in Oracle is on federal land over which the state has no jurisdiction. He says the accommodations don't meet AZ H&S standards for orphanages and there are no medical facilities. If any of the immigrants are or become ill, they would have to be transported to Tucson. Why Homeland Security chose to house them in that location is anyone's good guess.

Liberal publications and web sites are having fun sneering at border states' concern for inadequate screening and inadequate facilities at what can only be called improvised refugee camps. But the fact is the Southwest deserts harbor nasty microbes to which we've become relatively immune. For instance, people from Honduras have no resistance to desert fever. People from south of the border are as prone to travelers' trots from our water as we are to Montezuma's revenge from theirs, and a number of serious diseases, such as cholera and malaria, are still endemic in Central America.

Healthy as these immigrants must have been to make the trek at all, if our germs debilitate them, their germs could overcome their natural resistance. And then what? Do we quarantine them in an overcrowded compound and watch them die? Do we ship them to a hospital full of already sick people and hope whatever they've got isn't contagious?

Whoever dreamed this quasi-migration up either didn't think it through or thought it through to a very bitter end.

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Article comment by: It seems to me:

Another answer to that question lies in some Americans' definition of the word "children." Most of the current influx falls into the 13 -18 age group that most Americans call "adolescent," but that many in these immigrants' countries of origin call "adult."

Has anyone checked to make sure some or all of the children under six aren't actually accompanied by at least one parent fifteen or older? At the very least, I'd be surprised if there weren't quite a few old-enough to have families of their own aunts and uncles in each crowd.

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Article comment by: @ More to the Story

Media...investigate? No, they'd rather rather pontificate over a Pew Research report: "117% increase in children 12 and younger crossing border alone."

The LA Times tells us that between Jun 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014, 785 unaccompanied children under 6 yrs old were apprehended after crossing into Texas.

7,460 unaccompanied children under 13 yrs old were apprehended, of which 3,585 were from Honduras.

All told, 46,932 unaccompanied children were apprehended, most of whom were 16 and 17 yrs old.

Yes, it is absurd to imagine 785 kids under the age of 6 traveling more than 1200 miles and then swimming across the Rio Grande alone.

The answer you seek lies in the new definition of "unaccompanied."

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by: There's More to The Story

Imagine you are a 3 year old to 13 year old child or even older. You are on your own without adults.You are asked to walk from Houston, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota on your own with no food or belongings to sustain you.
Then you are asked to walk an additional 100 miles past Minnesota. Could you do it?
How long would it take you as a 6 year old? That is the minimum distance these poor, helpless little ones have supposedly walked from Central America to the border of Texas, again, on their own. Apparently they didn't get lost and they survived the journey without help (unless you buy in to the notion that a destitute out-of-work family run out of their homes by gangs and living in squalor somehow came up with $8,000 to $10,000 for EACH child to pay a coyote to take them to the border).
However, what 6 year old do you know who could walk 1,220 miles (minimum), yet more like 1,500 miles on their own without dying? How many days would it take for a 6 year old to walk 1,220 miles without help, directions, food, sun protection, shelter etc.?
I am beginning to think that the truth of all this is not being given completely to us, folks. Someone created and assisted this and the media should be figuring out who it is, don’t you think?

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by: steve hunter

So G.W. signs this act, highly endorsed by the Republican Party, now they are saying it's a horrible law and it needs to be changed.. yep typical right wing bs, first they say it's great now they hate it. That folks is known as "flipflopper", yep I said it, the whole Republican Party flips from one issue to another, but when push comes to shove, they flop everytime.

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: uncommon sense uncommon sence

Not to worry,Obama is going to let all illegals
to get work permits so they can't be deported.
Why is he so determined to destroy this country?
Must be payback for slavery.Perhaps his Arabic up bringing is the reason he won't help
Isreal or anyone else.

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: Nat'l Guard?

Unlike Texas, Arizona can't afford to pay them.

Anyway, what can the Nat'l Guard do? We might as well send Jan to the border to shake her finger.

And what good is closing the border when the feds are FLYING illegals into Arizona?

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: Mav Rick

Arizona, IMHO, should do as the Great State of Texas is doing. Send the National Guard to the southern border to stop the border jumpers. Instead of shaking your finger Jan, shake out the troops.

Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014
Article comment by: @ nutso fasst

This works great so long as everyone involved understands what they're passing and signing. Nowadays, bills are often written by lobbyists with language that obscures the real purpose. If a bill has to be passed to find out what's in it, it shouldn't be passed.

Take the PPACA, for example… please!

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Article comment by: All for a Children's Crusade...

Good news!

The Obama administration is going to start processing kids down in Central America and flying them here. Planes that fly deportees back home won't have to return to the U.S. empty and the kids won't have to ride on dangerous Mexican trains. Win win!

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: Legalize marijuana and this flood of fleeing children will stop

Since many states have become more pot friendly, the demand for marijuana in the USA has skyrocketed. To meet this increased market of marijuana to the USA is also helping to push the Mexican drug cartels south, out of Mexico. Now the drug cartel has taken over these countries to grow marijuana for the USA. Parents are telling their children to flee to America, or get killed by the drug cartels.

Stop the War on Marijuana, legalize it and stimulate the economy by growing all the marijuana we consume here in the USA. Say goodbye to the drug cartels as there will be no demand for marijuana from the USA. Then the children will stop fleeing.

Are the children actually refugees from a crisis brought on by the USA or are they illegal immigrants?

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: nutso fasst

In reading Section 235 of the 2008 law I conclude that neither Bush nor most of Congress actually read or understood it. It seems to have been written to enable the madness now occurring.

Regardless of the letter of the U.S. law, "I'm Confused" has a point. Unless these "children" have visas, they entered Mexico unlawfully. By failing to enforce their own immigration laws, the Mexican government is facilitating the influx into the U.S.

"@ Nutso":

See how that works?

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: @ @ Nutso:

Are you a poster child for the failure of public education or a Republican trying to paint Democrats as ignorant?

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: Sad Truth Is

Blame whomever you want, but the sad truth is our borders should have been secured back in the 1970's.

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: A Fisher

....and nothing gets done: each side blames the other, Rep. Granger is heading work group to study the problem and change the bill, Pelosi wants more money for additional judges and lawyers to help the migrants....blah blah blah blah.

Lets do something simple NOW while our "elected officials" banter. Our military protects our interests and borders in other countries, time to move them back home to protect this countries immediate interests.

Me thinks, the addition of well trained, armed military personnel guarding our borders would have an instant effect on the number of illegals, not migrants or migrant children, but illegals trying to enter the country.

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