House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, asking him to clarify where he stands on the key sticking point between congressional Republicans and Democrats in finding a resolution to the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Boehner’s letter concerns a 2008 law that makes it harder to quickly deport migrants who enter into the U.S. from Central America. With tens of thousands of migrants — many of them unaccompanied children — flowing over the border this year, many Republicans and some Democrats have advocated changes to the law. Members of both parties who want the law changed propose speeding up deportation proceedings so that migrants from Central America are treated in the same way as those from Mexico.
House Republicans unveiled a set of a dozen policy recommendations Wednesday as a solution to the border crisis, including alterations to the 2008 law. The recommendations would amend the law so “unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans for the purpose of removals.”
“This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than seven days after they are screened by child welfare officials,” a summary of the recommendations read.
The White House did not include changes to the law as part of its $3.7 billion request in emergency funds to deal with the border crisis. But Obama has publicly offered support for amending the law to “give us flexibility to move migrants through the system faster,” as Boehner noted in his letter.
“Frankly, it is difficult to see how we can make progress on this issue without strong, public support from the White House for much-needed reforms, including changes to the 2008 law,” Boehner wrote in the letter.
Here’s the full letter from Boehner to Obama:
House Republicans have been clear that we want to work with you to help the victims of the terrible humanitarian crisis at our southern border — particularly the children, who have been cruelly duped into making a perilous journey.
Our Appropriations Committee is continuing to review your supplemental request. But, as I have said many times, the American people will not support providing additional money unless you work with both parties to address the causes of this tragedy.
Earlier today, our Border Security working group — led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) — briefed our Conference on recommended policy changes to address this crisis. One of their key recommendations is changing the 2008 law which created the disparate treatment for migrants from nations other than Mexico and made it more difficult to resolve this crisis.
In your letter to Congress on June 30, 2014 you said you supported, “providing the DHS Secretary additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” On July 9, at an event in Texas, you said, “Last week, I sent a letter to Congress asking them to … give us flexibility to move migrants through the system faster.”
After these public statements, and similar comments from other administration officials, we were surprised that you did not include these changes in your formal supplemental request. Worse, in recent days, senior congressional leaders in your own political party have backpedalled and voiced unswerving opposition to any changes at all.
Frankly, it is difficult to see how we can make progress on this issue without strong, public support from the White House for much-needed reforms, including changes to the 2008 law.
I hope you will take the earliest possible opportunity to voice your continued support for common-sense efforts to stem the flow of children to our border. Working together, we can help provide crucial humanitarian relief, and work to secure our nation’s borders.
John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House
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