Obama ur­gently asks $3.7 bil­lion for bor­der cri­sis

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ap­pealed to Congress on Tues­day for $3.7 bil­lion in emer­gency spend­ing to deal with the im­mi­gra­tion cri­sis on the na­tion’s south­ern bor­der, where un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren have been show­ing up by the thou­sands in a hu­man drama that’s caus­ing a po­lit­i­cal storm in Wash­ing­ton and be­yond.

Obama him­self was fly­ing to Texas on Wed­nes­day, a trip de­signed mostly for po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ing for Democrats but now in­clud­ing a meet­ing on im­mi­gra­tion with re­li­gious and lo­cal lead­ers in Dal­las. He re­jected pres­sure from Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Perry to visit the bor­der for a first­hand look.

In Wash­ing­ton, Democrats and some Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill seemed open to ap­prov­ing the emer­gency money, which would go to­ward hir­ing more im­mi­gra­tion judges and asy­lum of­fi­cers, build­ing more de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, boost­ing de­ter­rence and en­force­ment and in­creas­ing sur­veil­lance along the bor­der with Mex­ico. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Se­nate would act on it this month.

Obama said in a for­mal let­ter of re­quest that the money was needed to “ad­dress this ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion.”

But Se­nate Democrats voiced skep­ti­cism about other changes the White House has said it wants that would send the mi- nors back to Cen­tral Amer­ica more quickly, partly by lim­it­ing their ex­ist­ing rights to court hear­ings. Those pro­pos­als, which are not part of Tues­day’s re­quest, have in­fu­ri­ated im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates who say they would re­sult in harsher treat­ment of kids and elim­i­nate their le­gal pro­tec­tions.

“Ev­ery­body’s very con­cerned. I’m one of them,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “I just want to make sure that at the end of the day we’re be­ing fair, hu­mane and do­ing this in an or­derly way.”

At the same time Repub­li­cans crit­i­cized Obama for step­ping back from ask­ing for those le­gal changes, which the White House ini­tially had said would come in con­cert with the emer­gency spend­ing re­quest. The White House now says those pro­pos­als will come later.

“He just de­cided not to do that be­cause of the push­back he got from some in his own po­lit­i­cal base,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “We need to solve the prob­lem, but you don’t need to just ig­nore the cause of the cur­rent cri­sis. And that re­quires more than just ap­pro­pri­at­ing $3.7 bil­lion for additional judges and the like.”

The back-and-forth came as law­mak­ers re­con­vened on Capi­tol Hill af­ter a week­long July 4 re­cess and sug­gested po­lit­i­cal strug­gles ahead over the un­fold­ing sit­u­a­tion at the bor­der.

AP Photo/nick Ut, File

FILE - In this July 7, 2014 file photo, im­mi­grant fam­i­lies and chil­dren’s ad­vo­cates rally in re­sponse to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s state­ment on the cri­sis of un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren and fam­i­lies il­le­gally en­ter­ing the United States, out­side the Los Angeles Federal build­ing. Tack­ling what he has called a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, Obama on Tues­day, July 8, 2014 asked Congress for $3.7 bil­lion to cope with a tide of mi­nors from Cen­tral Amer­ica who are il­le­gally cross­ing the U.S. bor­der, strain­ing im­mi­gra­tion re­sources and caus­ing a po­lit­i­cal firestorm in Wash­ing­ton.

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