Republicans draft $1.5B solution to U.S. border crisis
of the 57,000 unaccompanied children who have arrived illegally in the U.S. so far this year.
The law, known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, was intended to protect Central American children from human trafficking, but critics say it has become a foothold and incentive for Central American children coming to the U.S.
President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, supported changing the law until abruptly reversing their stance after hearing strong opposition from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and pro-immigration groups.
Mr. Boehner wrote to the president, pressing him to restore his support for changing the law.
“Frankly, it is difficult to see how we can make progress on this issue without strong, public support from the White House for much-needed reforms, including changes to the 2008 law,” wrote the speaker.
Signaling that the crisis wouldn’t end any time soon, the Pentagon announced it will freeing up additional space for housing up to 5,000 more of the unaccompanied alien children at military facilities through the end of the year.
The Obama administration turned to the military to house the children after repeatedly encountering opposition in communities slated for shelter sites, including in Maryland and Virginia.
At least 90,000 children will be caught this year, and more than 140,000 will be apprehended in 2015, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection memo.
Until recently, just about 8,000 unaccompanied children per year attempted to cross the border.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, introduced a $2.7 billion emergency appropriations bill to redouble efforts to shelter and provide immigration hearings for the children while they are in the United States, with few measures included to enhance border security.
It headed for an almost certain standoff with Republicans.
“It’s unfortunate that Democrats here in the Senate just want to vote to spend money,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a top advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.