Texas Gov. Rick Perry Rejects Obama's Emergency Request to Handle Immigration Crisis
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry has voiced his disapproval of President Barack Obama's request to Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the influx of unaccompanied child migrants coming to the United States.
Obama met with the Republican governor in Texas last week to discuss the request. According to wire service EFE, Perry said the emergency request is "not as necessary as sending" the National Guard to the border to tighten security. However, the White House has rejected that Republican proposal multiple times.
Perry, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, said the U.S. has failed to tackle the situation on the border during Obama's tenure. He suggested that Obama has not developed an adequate plan to deal with the overwhelming surge in undocumented immigrants, most of whom are unaccompanied children coming from Central America.
EFE reported that Perry said militarizing the border would send a message of strength to the immigrants coming to the U.S. from countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Obama publicly asked Perry to pressure Congress to approve the emergency request after meeting with him last week.
The extra funds provide better housing and care for the children, speed up the judicial process for the children's cases and help the children's countries of origin repatriate them once they get deported.
If approved, most of the funds would be appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services, which cares for and houses minors who arrive in the U.S. while their cases are being processed.
Due to the immigration system backlog, many undocumented immigrants wait years to stand trial, and many never get a trial at all. Therefore, some of the funds will be allocated to increase the number of judges and other border officials to allow child migrants to be processed in a timely manner.
Around 57,000 undocumented, unaccompanied children have crossed the border since October, mostly though the Rio Grande Valley. According to federal estimates, more than 100,000 more are expected to cross into the U.S. by the end of 2014.
Republicans believe more child migrants are coming to the U.S. because of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, under which illegal immigrants from Canada and Mexico are processed more quickly than are illegal immigrants from other countries. Republicans believe the law minimizes the deportation of migrant children from Central American countries, thereby encouraging more to come to the U.S.
While Obama announced that he would seek reforms to the law last week, his proposal Tuesday did not mention changes to it.
The law, signed by President George W. Bush, details how children crossing the border are to be handled. According to the law, Border Patrol agents are allowed to decide whether or not a minor can stay in the U.S. when the minor is from a country bordering the U.S. The process is expedited so that children who don't get to stay can be quickly and safely transported back to their countries of origin.
The law requires that children who come to the U.S. from a nonborder country be taken to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of being apprehended. The agency then finds them a safe place to stay, as well as legal counsel. However, they can wait one to two years for their cases to be heard due to the immigration court backlog. Therefore, many people from Central America have been able to stay in the U.S. longer.
White House officials said they will request that Congress adjust the law so children from "noncontiguous" countries are treated similarly to those from contiguous countries.
Susan L. Banovetz, director of communications at The Advocates for Human Rights, told The Latin Post the organization considers the increase in unaccompanied child immigrants a serious humanitarian crisis.
Michele Garnett McKenzie, the group's director of advocacy, wrote in a statement that the U.S. "must commit resources to ensure that everyone with protection claims meets due process worthy of our justice system."
"Resources must be dedicated to ensure that children and families who have fled for their lives have the opportunity for their protection claims to be articulated and considered," she said. "That means providing increased numbers of immigration judges and asylum officers to adjudicate claims and attorneys to represent them. Without proper hearings and proper, effective adjudication, we will be returning children and families to serious harm and placing them back in the hands of persecutors and traffickers."
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