WASHINGTON – Nearly 60,000 South American children are still stuck at our nation’s southern border, and now, they’re stuck in the middle of a political battle.
Members of Congress are trying to come up with a plan to deal with the influx of unaccompanied children who have traveled thousands of miles – turning themselves in to U.S. authorities to escape from desperate situations in countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
But still –there’s no compromise in sight.
“For those that are not legitimate, they need to be as quickly as possible sent back to their home country,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “Then we can deal with the real issues of children who are in danger without having tens of thousands of individuals who might not qualify for asylum costing us money.”
Some House Democrats support the president’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help deal with the problem.
But House Republicans want to change a 2008 anti-human trafficking law that now prevents immediately deporting anyone from countries other than Mexico or Canada.
And then there’s the Senate – Republican Senator Rob Portman (OH) says we need to change the message we’re sending to South American countries.
Portman says this is a humanitarian crisis that’s growing, saying he received reports that there will be at least 90,000 undocumented children crossing the border this year – and up to 140,000 next year.
“I think it is partly a result of the president’s message that he is sending – that these young people if they come to the country, they will not be deported, but that they will be able to stay for at least some period of time,” he said.
In another twist, Senate Democrats are working on a new spending bill that will appropriate $2.7 billion to help address the crisis – $1 billion less than the president wants.
And the Democratic proposal does not include changes to the 2008 anti-human trafficking law.
As lawmakers battle with each other and the White House over the crisis at the border, the children sit and wait.