The House bill attempts to relieve backlogged immigration courts by allowing those Central American children to be treated as if they were Mexicans, who are screened more quickly by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid oppose changing that provision, arguing it would grant the unaccompanied minors fewer legal protections and that there are other ways of speeding up immigration cases. The Obama Administration supports the policy change.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers broke down the House bill into three pots of funding: border control, temporary housing and foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The majority of the money, $405 million, is set aside to boost the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another $197 million would be allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with taking care of the migrant children until their family members or guardians can be found while the minors’ immigration cases are handled. There’s also $22 million in funding to hire judges and speed up judicial proceedings, $35 million to send the National Guard to the border and $40 million to support uniting the families in the aforementioned Central American countries. The bill would cover the costs through the end of September.
But with anti-immigration hardliners like Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions pushing for the bill to include language blocking deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), Sargent questions whether even this bill can pass the House:
GOP leaders are resisting the inclusion of such language. But it needs to be stated once again that Cruz, King, and Sessions are not outliers in this debate. Broadly speaking, their position on this crisis — and on immigration in general – is the GOP position writ large.
Republican leaders don’t want to include any measure against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the current border plan because the politics are terrible. That would entail responding to a crisis involving migrating minors not just by expediting deportations (which the current GOP bill would do), but also by calling for still more deportations from the interior. But the GOP leadership’s position is only that they don’t want any anti-DACA language in their current response to the crisis. The GOP position writ large is still that we should deport all the DREAMers, block Obama from any further executive action to ease deportations, and not act in any way to legalize the 11 million.
Cruz et al. aren’t the only ones trying to advance their agendas through the bill, though. Senate Democrats are looking to tack on the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform package, though Boehner says “no way”. Allahpundit quips:
He can’t turn around in the middle of a border crisis, three months out from the midterms and with Dave Brat having nuked Eric Cantor on immigration, and agree to amnesty. Try him again next year, though!
Public opinion, meanwhile, may be breaking in favor of a generous response to the underage migrants. Emma Green flags a new poll that seems to suggest as much:
How does America see the children who arrive at its border? According to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, the answer is “sympathetically.” The survey found that 69 percent of respondents thought these kids “should be treated as refugees and should be allowed to stay in the U.S. if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home country,” and roughly the same percentage said the government should provide them with shelter and support. Only 27 percent said they “should be treated as illegal immigrants and should be deported back to their home countries.”
But the respondents were more ambivalent about immigrants in general. While 56 percent agreed that Central American families are trying to keep their kids safe in “very difficult circumstances,” another 38 percent said they are “taking advantage of American good will and really seeking a back door to immigrate to our country.” And 42 percent said that immigrants are a “burden on the country” because “they take our jobs housing and healthcare”—a seven-point increase compared to another poll that asked the same question in early July.