A trio of potential Republican presidential candidates in the Senate is rebuffing President Obama over the influx of children from Central America across the southern border.
But even as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida blame Obama, there are differences among their critiques.
Cruz took perhaps the boldest swipes at the president and his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the issue. Cruz was also the only one of the group to speak on the floor this week.
Paul remained mostly quiet, having published an op-ed during the Independence Day holiday that criticized the country's immigration policy broadly but did not directly address the minors streaming across the border. He's also withholding comment on the president's funding request until there is written legislation, according to spokesman Sergio Gor.
Rubio, who finds himself in perhaps the most awkward position because he supported the Senate's immigration bill last year, defended his position while jabbing at Obama.
Here's a look at the where the senators stand on the issue:
Cruz: "Of the president's own making."
Cruz took the president on directly, blaming him for the influx of children, which he said could top 90,000 by the end of the year.
"This is a humanitarian disaster, but it is a disaster of the president's own making," Cruz said Wednesday. "It is a disaster that is a direct consequence of President Obama's lawlessness."
He dismissed the president's $3.7 billion request and said it would not solve the problem. He instead suggested that "boots on the ground" would stem the tide of children crossing the border.
"This is an HHS social-services bill," Cruz said of the president's supplemental request.
Cruz also compared the request to the $800 billion economic stimulus bill in 2009, saying it was sold to the public as a jobs bill but that the so-called shovel-ready jobs did not materialize as promised. In this case, the administration claims the funding request is for border security, yet much of the money goes to the Health and Human Services Department, Cruz argued.
Paul: "Beacon to all of Central America."
Echoing the language he used in an op-ed last week on Breitbart.com, Paul told reporters in Kentucky—without getting specific—that he backs some forms of forgiveness but that he thinks the border should be secure first.
"Now that's become a beacon to all of Central America because we didn't secure the border," he said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "So if you don't secure the border and you offer these things of reform and forgiveness, many of which I'm for, but if you don't secure the border, then you get this humanitarian crisis and the whole world thinks they can come and no one's stopping them."
Rubio: "Take care of them as ... humanely as possible … but they do need to be returned."
Rubio defended his vote on the immigration bill by pointing out that neither the legislation nor current law allows the children to stay in the country. Like Cruz, he criticized the administration's funding request and pointed out that the lion's share of it goes toward HHS, with too little going to secure the border.
"We need to apply the law, we need to take care of them as … humanely as possible while they are here but they do need to be returned and reunited with their families in their home country, because that's the law of the country," Rubio said in an interview with Hot Air. "If you don't enforce the law you are creating an incentive for people trying to come here."
This article appears in the July 11, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.