Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, have a bill to address conditions on the border. / Joel Martinez, AP
Two members of Congress pitched their solution to the border crisis Sunday, but House Republican leadership refused to say whether Congress would delay its August recess if none of the competing proposals for dealing with thousands of Central American children are passed this week.
"A solution beats no solution every day,'' Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on ABC's This Week, one of several Sunday news shows to address the border crisis. "So I hope we will act.''
Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, want to change a 2008 law to make it easier to deport illegal child migrants and provide funding to speed the process. "The American public wants us to have an orderly border,'' Cuellar said. "Right now they're not seeing that.''
Under the law to address human trafficking, children from Central America receive a full immigration hearing rather than being turned back at the border.
The influx of migrant children from Central America across the nation's southwestern border has resulted in competing proposals from the White House and Congress. The Obama administration has requested $3.7 billion to handle the influx and try to stem it; Senate Democrats have proposed $2.7 billion. Republicans have suggested $1 billion in spending and Cornyn said that the House might "skinny down'' that amount.
Cornyn said that screening Honduran children for refugee status, under consideration by the Obama administration, would not end the influx if Central American children continue to be exempted from immediate deportation by the 2008 trafficking law. "That's not going to stop the magnet or the business models that the (smuggling) cartels have created to exploit this vulnerability in the 2008 law. This is making them a lot of money and it's subjecting immigrants and children to horrific conditions.''
House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said legislation to deal with the border crisis "has to start with securing the border and not writing the president a blank check.'' The House will "keep working until this problem is solved,'' he said. But Scalise dodged a question from Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace about whether the House would delay its August recess, due to start Friday, to work on immigration legislation.
Democratic congressional leaders have said funding for dealing with the influx of young migrants should be considered separately from immigration policy change, such as amending the trafficking law.
Rep. Paul Ryan, who voted in favor of the 2008 law, said he now believes it should be changed. "I do believe we need to amend this law, which never intended for this to happen,'' he said on NBC's Meet the Press. "Otherwise the humanitarian crisis will continue.''
But conservative columnist George Will said Republicans should drop their insistence that unaccompanied minors be quickly deported.
"We ought to say to these children, 'Welcome to America: you're going to go to school, get a job and become citizens,'' Will said on Fox News Sunday. "The idea that these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears can't be assimilated is ridiculous.''
Read the original story: Cornyn, Cuellar tout border bill amid uncertainty