House Republicans announced Tuesday they will recommend dispatching the National Guard to South Texas and speeding Central American youths back home as their response to the immigration crisis that’s engulfing the border and testing Washington’s ability to respond.
The recommendations, to come from a working group established by House Speaker John Boehner, will set up a clash with leading Democrats who oppose changing U.S. law to eliminate automatic immigration hearings for Central American children and return them more quickly to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where some areas are overrun by brutal gangs.
With Democrats and the White House under growing pressure from immigration advocates to hold firm against the GOP approach, a solution for the growing crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border is looking increasingly elusive with three weeks left before Congress leaves Washington for an annual August recess.
“It’s a critical situation, and if we don’t deal with it urgently — but well, done right — we’re facing a crisis of just huge proportions,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who traveled to Honduras and Guatemala over the weekend with members of the House GOP working group including its leader, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. “Time is of the essence.”
Granger, Diaz-Balart and others said their proposals would include sending the National Guard to help overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, increasing immigration judges, adding assistance to Central American nations and changing a 2008 trafficking victims law that guarantees hearings for Central American youths. The law has the practical result of letting the young people stay in the country for years as their cases move through the badly backlogged immigration courts.
Republicans are working to significantly pare down President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the border.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared that: “With this money, we can take care of the problem.”