House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that she wants Congress to quickly pass a bill providing billions of dollars of new money to deal with unaccompanied minors at the border, without any additional language aimed at fixing parts of U.S. immigration law that Republicans say has caused the border crisis.
The Obama administration has called for passage of $3.7 billion bill to help officials detain children as they cross, and then get them medical care while they wait — sometimes for years — for a deportation hearing. Pelosi said a bill similar to that supplemental spending proposal should be passed, without any of the immigration law changes the GOP wants.
“There’s no reason why they have to be tied, and I hope that the Republicans will come to that conclusion,” she said. “I very firmly believe that it would be a mistake for us to do immigration law in a supplemental bill.
“Let’s just keep it separate. Immigration, immigration,” she added. “But again, don’t hold the children hostage to the cosmetics of how tough you are on the border.”
Pelosi is unlikely to get her way in the House. Republicans have all but ignored Obama’s request for $3.7 billion, and instead has outlined a plan to require faster deportations and the deploying of the National Guard to secure the border.
Part of that plan also includes a change to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, which now prevents officials from immediately deporting children from Central America.
Republicans have also blamed the Obama administration for making it harder to pass a bill, since the administration initially supported this change to the 2008 law, and then balked once it ran into Democratic opposition in Congress. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that change is slowing progress toward passing a bill.
“Now the president and his team have apparently flip-flopped,” Boehner said. “Now they want billions in new spending with no commitment to actually solving the problem.”
While Pelosi wants a watered down border bill, some Republicans are saying Boehner’s vision doesn’t go far enough, as it doesn’t do anything to prevent President Barack Obama from expanding a program to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrant adults and give them work permits. Obama has said he would take some action on immigration at the end of the summer, and members like Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say legislation is needed to prevent Obama from expanding an amnesty program in this way.
On Thursday, however, Boehner indicated the House would not consider legislation along the lines of what Cruz has proposed.