A House Republican working group on Wednesday released a set of 12 principles for dealing with the southern border crisis, which includes sending National Guardsmen to the border, expediting the deportation of unaccompanied minors, and forcing the government to devise a plan for gaining operational control of the border.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chaired the group, presented the proposals to House Republicans in the morning, and the ideas are expected to find their way into legislation as early as this month.
As expected, expedited deportation of the roughly 60,000 children who have crossed into U.S. territory this year is a key feature of the plan. Republicans say treating the children humanely but getting them back home is the best way to send the signal that the U.S. border is not open, and stop the historic flood of illegal immigrants.
“These recommendations reflect the immediate crisis this country faces by providing common-sense, compassionate, but tough solutions,” Granger said.
“Our focus has been to ensure the safety of the children and it has remained a top priority throughout this process,” she added. “In our personal meetings with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala they both stated that they wanted their children back, and we believe that is in the best interest of all the countries involved in this crisis.
“We look forward to working with these countries as they prepare to receive their children back.”
A major proposal being made by Republicans is to change the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 to require the immediate deportation of minors from Central America. President Barack Obama initially said he wanted this change, but congressional Democrats opposed it, which forced Obama not to formally ask for it.
Many Republicans see this law as a key problem that has allowed thousands of children to flood across the border and stay for years in some cases, since current law is a barrier to their immediate deportation.
GOP members also want to see several steps aimed at beefing up border security. They want the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to regain control of the border, and a new commission to develop border security measures. They will also seek to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from denying border enforcement activities on protected federal land.
The GOP’s proposed solutions don’t make a recommendation on how much money to spend, but some new spending is implied in its recommendation to deploy the National Guard to care for the children crossing into the United States. Republicans say this step would allow the Border Patrol to go back to its main job of policing the border.
Republicans also recommend the establishment of repatriation centers in Central America, the origin of most of the minors. It also calls for “aggressive messaging campaigns” in those countries, the deployment of judges and to the border to more quickly process immigrants, and more law enforcement operations both in the U.S. and in Central America to disrupt human trafficking organizations.
While these steps will all cost money, the proposal Republicans are likely to pursue is expected to cost much less than the $3.7 billion that President Barack Obama has requested.
Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office said that just $25 million of that $3.7 billion request would be spent in the current fiscal year. That drew an immediate complaint from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who said that information shows there’s no need to quickly pass Obama’s proposal, and that Republicans should consider their own plans for dealing with the border.