House Republicans unveiled a set of a dozen policy recommendations on Wednesday to deal with the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where tens of thousands of migrants from Central America — many of them unaccompanied children — have crossed this year alone.
The recommendations were released Wednesday from a “working group” of House Republicans led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas). Leading the proposals is a suggestion to tweak a 2008 law to make it speedier to deport some of the unauthorised migrants who have crossed the border. Some Democrats have balked at altering the law, prompting the White House to move away from earlier hints it wanted the law to be revised.
The 2008 law is perhaps the key sticking point between congressional Republicans and Democrats over a comprehensive solution to the problem at the border. President Barack Obama did not include any request for changes to the law in his $US3.7 billion emergency-funding request sent to Congress two weeks ago.
“The recommendation to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 is something both parties agree on and modifications to the law can be done to expedite the process while ensuring proper protections are in place for the children who need them,” Granger said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“We recommend amending the 2008 law, so that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same for the purpose of removal. This would be done by requiring unaccompanied minors who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in Health and Human Services’ custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must promptly occur after they are screened by child welfare officials.”
Also included in the recommendations was a call to deploy members of the National Guard to the border, something President Barack Obama has so far resisted.
During a press conference Wednesday morning, House Republican leadership signaled it hoped the full House could vote on a legislative version of the proposals before Congress goes on recess in August.
Here’s the full list of recommendations:
• Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.
• Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.
• Require a DHS strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.
• Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.
• Establish border security in Central American countries and Mexico.
• Establish repatriation centres in originating countries in order to facilitate the return of family units and unaccompanied minors.
• Deploy aggressive messaging campaigns in originating countries and the U.S. to dispel immigration myths, clarify that individuals will be deported on arrival and advise on the dangers and legal penalties of travelling through Mexico to enter the United States illegally.
• Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border with the ultimate goal of processing family units 5-7 days. Congress must continue stringent oversight to ensure this mandate is being met.
• Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 so all 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 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials.
• Deploy additional judge teams and temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims. Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system. Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing for those with legitimate claims. The standard under current law that allows an alien to show a “credible fear of persecution” needs to be examined and addressed to ensure a fraud-free system moving forward. In addition, criminal aliens and criminal gang members should not receive asylum.
• Establish tough penalties for those engaged in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors by strengthening penalties for human smugglers and those who assist them.
• Increase law enforcement operations domestically and in originating countries to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organisations and encourage originating countries to pass strict laws against human smuggling.
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