Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that deporting illegal immigrant children back to their home countries will do nothing to resolve the border crisis, going against the grain of Republicans who say faster deportations will do just that by making it less worthwhile for kids to try to cross into the county.
Reid opened this week’s work in the Senate by criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for seeking to end President Barack Obama’s deferred deportation program as a condition of funding new border control efforts. Cruz and other Republicans have said that deferred action program has tempted thousands of children to cross the border, but Reid said it doesn’t make sense to deport anyone.
“Deporting DREAMers already here or speeding up the process for sending children who need protection back to their crime-ravaged home does not address the root cause,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
“If fact, it will only break up families who are already here and ensure that we see these migrant children again in a few months if they survive, because they’re not going to stay there.”
Like many other Democrats, Reid said that instead of trying to beef up border security or deporting children, Congress needs to spend money to take care of them. On that issue, he called on Congress to pass Obama’s $3.7 billion request for funding.
“If the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services don’t get these resources, they’re going to run out of money,” he said.
The U.S. should also spend more money to address violence in Central America, which he said is forcing these children to make the long, dangerous trek to the United States.
As he did last week, Reid again argued that the U.S. border is secure, and said U.S. assets at the border aren’t enough to take care of the kids.
“The truth is… we’ve taken steps to secure our border,” he said. “So regardless of what the American people might hear from the Republicans, this isn’t an issue about bigger walls or more barbed wire or more drones or more helicopters or more personnel on the ground or national guardsmen.”
“Our border security mechanisms are working so, so much better. But our border patrol agents and infrastructure aren’t equipped to care for tens of thousands of children,” he added.
“Barbed wire doesn’t do that, high fences don’t do that, virtual fences don’t do that, drones don’t do that, helicopters don’t do that.”
Despite Reid’s arguments, House Republicans are working on a bill that would likely spend far less than Obama wants, and would help speed up the deportation process. GOP leaders said last week it’s not clear they can pass their alternative bill by the end of July.