WASHINGTON (7/12/14) — This week President Obama requested $3.7 billion to handle the immediate crisis at the United States border with people entering our country illegally, including minors.
Throughout this Congress, and as recent as this week Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, has frequently discussed immigration issues with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06).
Last week, a number of bipartisan members of Congress joined Goodlatte on an investigative trip to the Rio Grande Valley that revealed new information about the sudden increase of children and families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Goodlatte released the following key points revealed from the investigation and below is a summary of those findings.
- The vast majority of Central American minors who are unaccompanied meet up with their parents who are already in the United States illegally. While touring several federal facilities, minors traveling from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras stated that they came here to be with a parent who is already in the United States illegally.
- Border Patrol agents say the best way to stop this crisis is deterrence. Border Patrol agents stated unequivocally that the best way to stop the surge of Central Americans is deterrence and there must be an end of what is now essentially “catch and release.” There is increasing awareness that there are little if any consequences for illegal immigration of women and children and they are not priorities for removal, as outlined in the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement “priorities.”
- Stringent environmental rules prevent Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector from accessing federal lands along the border. Border Patrol agents cited restrictions on federal lands as a burden to doing their job of securing the border.
Congressman Whitfield and his colleagues in Congress have also developed a few other specific points that the President could use to immediately address this problem.
Department of Homeland Security:
- Deploy National Guard to the border for security and humanitarian relief.
- Increase Operation Stonegarden grants through available FY14 funds.
- Ensure asylum claims are valid and standards for "credible fear" claims are strictly enforced.
- Restrict ability of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to use prosecutorial discretion as related to parole and detention of certain migrants.
Department of Health and Human Services:
- Require HHS to enter into contracts with organizations that can assist in placement determinations, rather than relying exclusively on the grants process.
- Require full and formal screening of all volunteers caring for and holding unaccompanied minors.
Department of State:
- Send a clear message to sending countries and intending migrants that immigrants illegally crossing into the US will be deported and promptly returned to their home countries.
- Require State to enter into negotiations with primary sending countries to expedite the return of family units and unaccompanied children.
“There are better alternatives to securing our border than throwing billions of dollars at the problem,” said Whitfield. “It is clear that the Obama Administration’s failed immigration policies have directly contributed to this crisis, and in all likelihood have actually encouraged more minors and adults to cross the border illegally. President Obama’s should immediately direct his Agencies to crack down on illegal immigration and adopt new policies and procedures to secure our Nation’s borders. This issue has a direct effect on the Commonwealth of Kentucky, its people, and our economy. I will continue to work with Chairman Goodlatte, and Representatives on both sides of the aisle to accomplish reasonable, effective, and problem-solving immigration reform.”
Information provided by Marty Irby
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