House GOP Prepares Own Border Plan

Boys wait in line to make a phone call as they are joined by hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children that are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Arizona. Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. 
Billy House
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Billy House
July 15, 2014, 8:44 a.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans are plan­ning to roll out their own plan to ad­dress the bor­der crisis by Tues­day—and mem­bers say it won’t come any­where near em­bra­cing Pres­id­ent Obama’s $3.7 bil­lion re­quest for more fund­ing.

Ex­act de­tails of what Re­pub­lic­ans will of­fer as an al­tern­at­ive have not been fi­nal­ized, in­clud­ing the price tag it will carry, along with any policy pro­pos­als.

But in a closed con­fer­ence meet­ing Tues­day morn­ing, Speak­er John Boehner told his House Re­pub­lic­an col­leagues that they needed to move quickly, so that at least the GOP-led House passes a plan be­fore its Au­gust break.

It will then be up to Demo­crats in the Sen­ate to de­cide wheth­er to join Re­pub­lic­ans in work­ing out a two-cham­ber solu­tion, sev­er­al Re­pub­lic­ans said of the strategy.

House Home­land Se­cur­ity Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mi­chael Mc­Caul of Texas said Re­pub­lic­ans are look­ing at a num­ber of items as part of their plan. He said it will carry “a mes­sage of de­terrence, look at more bor­der-se­cur­ity meas­ures, and more judges to pro­cess these cases more ex­ped­i­tiously.”

“And the Na­tion­al Guard will cer­tainly be in our pro­pos­al,” he said. “We’re look­ing at all of those com­pon­ents.”

“No, it will not be the same as his,” Mc­Caul ad­ded of any ad­di­tion­al spend­ing, as op­posed to Obama’s $3.7 bil­lion sup­ple­ment­al re­quest to deal with the crisis. The amount of any new bor­der fund­ing is now be­ing con­sidered by the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee led by Har­old Ro­gers of Ken­tucky.

But GOP con­ser­vat­ives such as Aus­tin Scott of Geor­gia, said there is little ap­pet­ite for the idea of “spend­ing $4 bil­lion when we’ve already ap­pro­pri­ated money over and over on these is­sues and it hasn’t re­solved the prob­lem.”

Dur­ing Tues­day’s closed-door meet­ing, Re­pub­lic­ans also heard from Rep. Kay Granger of Texas and oth­er mem­bers of the speak­er’s spe­cial work­ing group as­signed to help come up with op­tions for a House strategy to deal with the surge of un­ac­com­pan­ied minors to the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

The group had ar­rived back in Wash­ing­ton on Monday night after a week­end trip to Cent­ral Amer­ica. Granger and oth­ers in the group did not yet provide spe­cif­ic re­com­mend­a­tions, but fol­low-up meet­ing or “huddles” with law­makers are ex­pec­ted through the week.

One of the group’s mem­bers, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mex­ico, whose dis­trict lies along the U.S. Mex­ico bor­der, said that one thing em­phas­ized to them in their meet­ings in Cent­ral Amer­ic­an is that lead­ers of those coun­tries “want their chil­dren back—be­cause this is their next gen­er­a­tion.”

“We need to deal with this in hu­mane way, we need to deal with it a com­pas­sion­ate way, but we also need to deal with it in a firm way,”Pearce said.

Sev­er­al of the Re­pub­lic­ans said they hope their plan, or parts of it, will ul­ti­mately re­ceive sup­port from the pres­id­ent and bi­par­tis­an sup­port in Con­gress.

And there does seem already to be some bi­par­tis­an sup­port for at least chan­ging cur­rent law so that im­mig­rant chil­dren at the bor­der can be vol­un­tar­ily and more swiftly re­turned to their home coun­tries and fam­il­ies rather than held for de­port­a­tion hear­ings, a pro­cess already al­lowed for un­doc­u­mented young im­mig­rants from Mex­ico and Canada.

“Some will join us,” pre­dicted Scott of po­ten­tial Demo­crat­ic sup­port for what the House Re­pub­lic­ans plan to be in­tro­duced by Tues­day.

“I think you will see oth­ers grand­stand­ing,” he said.

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