In 2008, both chambers of Congress unanimously approved a law that intentionally slowed down the removal process for unaccompanied child migrants. But it was written with 5,000 children a year in mind. This year, it’s possible that 90,000 kids will arrive at the border, and the system is absolutely crushed.
At a Senate hearing today, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that at current funding, Immigration could run out of money to deal with the crisis next month. The Obama administration has asked Congress for nearly $4 billion in additional resources to combat the crisis.
During the hearing, Johnson said that the 2008 law should be amended.
“In terms of changing the law,” he said, “we’re asking for the ability to treat unaccompanied kids from a Central American country in the same way as from a contiguous country.”
Currently, children from noncontiguous countries are treated with extra precaution compared with children from Mexico. With unaccompanied Mexican minors, DHS is not required to hand them over to the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours. Instead, after an interview, border control agents can make determinations on the spot if a child flags concerns for fear of persecution or fear of return. If no concerns are raised, they can turn the child around right away, rather then have the youngster travel through the long and complicated U.S. immigration system and through HHS facilities and care. Children who go through HHS, could stay in the country for months, or even years, if the backlog is long enough.
“People in Central America need to see illegal migrants coming back,” Johnson said. “The children accompanied by their parents, and the unaccompanied adults. We’re doing it, and lessening the time it takes to happen. So, we’re asking for additional resources to turn those people around quicker.”
But, at the same time, changing the law means going back to a system that Congress felt compelled enough to change. One of the drafters of the law said the provision was included because there was a feeling that these children were being dealt with in too summary a fashion. According to the United Nations, more than half of these children flag international-protection concerns. Changing the law won’t change their risk of return.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.