By Jeffrey TouseWASHINTON, DC -- The recent spike in unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas border continues. The stalemate that has ruled Washington politics for the last 2 years has left thousands of children cramped in overrun detention centers. This week, two Texas lawmakers put their party affiliations aside and attempt to present a bill that would curb the escalating crisis.
Republican Senator John Cornyn teamed up with Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar to draft what they call the HUMANE ACT, a bill that attempts to expedite the deportation process for unaccompanied minors.
Under this bill, Children from Central America would be given the opportunity to claim asylum and would be seen by an immigration judge within a week of arrival. Immigration judges would then be given 72 hours to decide if the child qualifies to stay in the U.S. until the formal hearing. Otherwise, they will be returned to their families in their home country. HUMANE will also require that 40 additional immigration judges will be appointed.
Congressman Randy Neugebauer says the US needs to return these children to their home countries as quickly as possible.
“If your son or daughter shows back up on your doorstep and you’ve paid out all that money and they are back home, it begins to send the signal, this isn’t the pathway to prosperity for that child,” says Neugebauer.
Congressman Mac Thornberry agrees, but with some possible conditions.
“When we take them back, we may have to spend some money to make sure they are sheltered, and until in their home country, until they can be reunited with their family,” says Thornberry.
A major concern with the HUMANE bill is if there are enough people at the border to properly assess the danger these children claim to face. Ben Johnson, of the American Immigration Council worries that the HUMANE bill sets an unrealistic goal, trying to process asylum claims within one week.
“Yes we can move the cases along much faster than we are now, but our focus ought to be getting to the facts of these cases and making the right determinations, because there is no question that for some of these kids it’s a matter of life and death,” says Johnson.
Congress can agree on one thing, they hope to have a plan in place before they head home for the August recess.