A House Democrat on Friday accused Republicans of signing a death warrant for thousands of immigrant children by pushing for their immediate deportation back to their countries of origin in Central America.
"What the Republican proposal tried to do yesterday… and what they are trying to do today, is to strip away the rights of a child to live," said Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) on the House floor.
US Border patrol agents keep watch outside the entrance to the US Border Patrol facility in Murrieta during an anti-immigration protest in Murrieta, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck
"The Republicans want to indiscriminately return children to their death," he added.
Republicans have tried all week to pass legislation that would speed up the process of booking immigrant children into an immigration hearing, and deporting those that don't qualify for asylum. The GOP says faster deportations is the only way to end the humanitarian crisis at the border, since doing so would send the message that most children will not receive asylum in the U.S.
Cardenas was joined by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who implied that Republicans don't care about the fate of the children that are returned back to their countries of origin.
"They care about these children so much, that their proposal is to tell them to get out of here just as quick as they can, before they can present their claims that they were trafficked, or that they suffer a return to violence and murder and rape at home," Doggett said.
But these charges were rejected by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
"We're not returning them to criminals, we're returning them to the custody of their governments, their own officials, who are probably better situated to make these decisions than we are a thousand-plus miles away," Cole said.
The back and forth happened during floor debate on a rule that will allow the House to return to work any time in August to pass a border bill.
The House was expected to approve the rule, and there were signs Republicans were preparing to pass two border bills by Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, House GOP leaders had to pull consideration of two bills after it became clear there was not enough Republican support. One of the bills would spend $659 million on efforts to handle the flood of immigrant children, and the other would have limited President Barack Obama from expanding an amnesty program similar to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.
Republicans were expected to beef up both bills to ensure governors of border states can summon the National Guard to help secure the border, and further limit Obama's options under DACA.