For months Congress, President Obama and political pundits have analyzed and offered solutions on how to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis at the Southwest border.
The solutions vary — President Obama recently urged Congress to approve a $3.7 billion budget to put resources in place to deal with the nearly 57,000 children that have crossed the border since October 2013, American “freedom fighters” are flexing the first amendment and some serious intimidation to turn away buses carrying undocumented immigrants, and Republicans, who blocked immigration reform proposals, are urging the president to strengthen security around U.S. borders.
It’s clear, by now, that the waters on what’s right or wrong have been muddied — polls find that 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the crisis. Still, an even higher percentage — 66 percent of Americans, and 68 percent of Hispanics — disapproves of Congressional Republicans’ handling of it.
The solution won’t be easy. But politics and bipartisanship (or lack of) aside, here are some things you should know when considering the growing humanitarian crisis.
Deportations Could Mean Certain Death:
For many proponents of comprehensive border crisis control, the issue is less immigration and more humanitarian. And while the White House has acknowledged it as such, officials also stressed that unaccompanied children and families should stop crossing the border into the U.S. That statement, for thousands, is more of a death threat than welcome advice.
According to NBC, between 2012 and 2013, Nicaragua saw a 238 percent increase in asylum applications from children and families fleeing neighboring countries. Honduras has the world’s highest homicide rate and El Salvador and Guatemala also wrestle with high levels of gang violence and organized crime. In fact, homicides in Honduras last year climbed to a whopping 7,172 — more than New York, Miami, Chicago, Detroit or any major city combined.
It’s simple — children and families are fleeing to stay alive.
Maria, a 17-year-old, paid a coyote to bring her into the United States after her brother was killed by a gang and she was threatened with death if she did not join it. Fighting tears, she described to Díaz-Balart the process of crossing the border as “horrible” and explained that she decided to enter the country “just to save my own life so that I could live my dreams, so I could help my family.” Deportation “would be a tragedy, it would be a certain death for me,” she added. “Everything that’s happened to me in my life, I would just know that that would be the last day.”
You can watch that interview here.
Where The $3.7 Billion Obama Requested Will Go:
Last week the Obama administration asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the flood of unaccompanied minor children crossing the border.
The breakdown, according to the administration, is as followed:
– $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement
– $433 million to Customs and Border Protection
– $64 million for the Department of Justice
– $300 million to the State Department
– $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The administration stressed that the money is necessary to cover costs like increased man-hours for border patrol agents and aerial surveillance teams, legal services for children in immigration proceedings and care for unaccompanied children while they are in the country. But with $433 million going to protecting the border, little is left to improve the inadequate border facilities.
Refugee and immigration advocates and policy experts are repeatedly warning the administration that additional funding should not focus on border security but on ensuring that children and women with legitimate claims of asylum due to violence or trafficking had their day in court.
Americans Are Comparing The Exodus Of Child Refugees To An Invasion:
In addition to a group of “freedom fighters” who hurled anti-minority rhetoric, vitriol and disapproval at buses full of migrant families being transported from San Diego to be processed at the Murrieta Border Patrol station last week, politicians have made it a point to exploit the children for their political gain. From Think Progress:
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) went even farther, going on a diatribe against the migrant children and urging Texas to unilaterally declare war. Here’s what he said:
Even with $3.7 billion that’s requested, there’s no way for what’s being called for is going to stop the invasion that’s occurring. That’s why I’m hoping that my governor will utilize Article 1, Section 10, that allows a state that is being invaded — in our case more than twice as many just in recent months, more than twice as many than invaded France on D-Day with a doubling of that coming en route, on their way here now under Article 1, Section 10, the state of Texas would appear to have the right, not only to use whatever means, whether it’s troops, even using ships of war, even exacting a tax on interstate commerce that wouldn’t normally be allowed to have or utilize, they’d be entitled in order to pay to stop the invasion.
Lawmakers are also opposing new facilities to house the influx of migrant children, citing a concern that the children may be “diseased.”
“…One Texas city passed a resolution to ban these facilities within city limits, citing “health and safety” concerns. Other lawmakers in Vassar, Michigan; Hazleton, Pennsylvania; and Murrieta, California have made similar claims that undocumented immigrants are diseased and are refusing to house them.
Tom Wassa, a Republican candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives, said at a meeting to discuss housing child refugees in Vassar that the children have “known diseases and gang affiliations.” He added, “This places without question many Michigan families in harm’s way. President (Barack) Obama would be classified as a domestic terrorist. He is creating an atmosphere of fear and terror.”
House GOP Want Speedier Deportations:
As a response to the growing immigration crisis, House Republicans recommended the presence of the National Guard at the border, as well as speedier returns of Central American children on Monday. The recommendations, outlined by a group created by House Speaker Joh Boehner, could come as early as Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, according to the group’s leader, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. From the Associated Press:
The proposals of the House GOP group will include recommending changes to a 2008 trafficking victims law that requires immigration hearings for minors who arrive at the border from countries other than Mexico and Canada. Since there’s a backlog of more than 350,000 cases in the immigration court system, the result is that Central American youths stay in the U.S. for months or years as they await distant court dates that many never show up for.
“The average case now takes a year and a half to 5 years to go through the process. With 57,000 unaccompanied children that’s just not acceptable, so we’ve got to change that,” said Granger.
The House GOP proposal would allow youths from Central America and other countries to be treated the same as Mexican kids, who can be turned around quickly by Border Patrol agents unless they’re able to make the case that they have a fear of return and require further screening.
The group also hopes to pare down Obama’s $3.7 billion budget for resources.
The Deportations Haven’t Stopped:
Amid the growing humanitarian crisis, about 40 Central American immigrants detained briefly in New Mexico were deported on Monday. The individuals were held temporarily at a detention center in Artesia before they were placed on a plane in Roswell and flown to Honduras.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement more immigrants being held in Artesia will be sent back to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador soon, as part of an effort to quickly remove immigrants who were part of a recent surge along the U.S.-Mexico border.
SOURCE: Think Progress, NBC, Ice.gov | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty