Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Hispanics Oppose Faster Child Deportations in Border Crisis

The Hispanic Caucus met with Obama on Wednesday.

Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference June 12, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Billy House Rachel Roubein
July 16, 2014, 11:48 a.m.

Pro­spects for any bi­par­tis­an House agree­ment on a plan to ad­dress the bor­der crisis hit a hurdle on Wed­nes­day as Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi and mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Caucus said they would not go along with a pro­pos­al to speed-up de­port­a­tions of chil­dren from Cent­ral Amer­ica.

“Lead­er Pelosi op­poses this le­gis­la­tion as it is not in fur­ther­ance of due pro­cess for these chil­dren,”  Pelosi spokes­man Drew Hamill said.

Earli­er this week, the minor­ity lead­er had not seemed so def­in­ite. But mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Caucus and oth­er Demo­crats have said they are op­posed, and they have been lob­by­ing Pelosi against it. On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the His­pan­ic Caucus met with Obama about their op­pos­i­tion.

“I am en­er­gized and op­tim­ist­ic after meet­ing with the pres­id­ent,” Rep. Lu­is Gu­ti­er­rez, D-Ill., said after the meet­ing. “We told the pres­id­ent the CHC will not sup­port a sup­ple­ment­al budget re­quest that un­der­mines the leg­al pro­tec­tion for chil­dren and we will work with him to get the re­sources our gov­ern­ment needs to re­spond to the hu­man­it­ari­an crisis we are see­ing with child refugees from Cent­ral Amer­ica.”

“The His­pan­ic Caucus feels these kids still should have their day in court,” said Rep. Joa­quin Castro, D-Texas.

In a state­ment sent out af­ter­ward of the meet­ing with the CHC, White House of­fi­cials did not dir­ectly ad­dress the is­sue of wheth­er Obama made any com­mit­ment to not go along with an ac­cel­er­a­tion of the de­port­a­tion pro­cess.

In­stead, it again em­phas­ized a need for ur­gency by Con­gress in ap­prov­ing his sup­ple­ment­al re­quest for hu­man­it­ari­an reas­ons. It also called for com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form, which the state­ment said has yet not happened be­cause of “the lack of Re­pub­lic­an ac­tion.”

The de­vel­op­ment is a sig­ni­fic­ant one.

The pres­id­ent has re­ques­ted $3.7 bil­lion in emer­gency fund­ing to ad­dress the surge of chil­dren and adults from Cent­ral Amer­ic­an coun­tries. House Re­pub­lic­ans haven’t yet an­nounced how much fund­ing they could go along with, though lead­ers in­dic­ate it won’t be as much money as Obama wants.

But among oth­er things they want to tie-in to any le­gis­la­tion deal­ing with the crisis — along with more bor­der se­cur­ity meas­ures — is a change to a 2008 law that would al­low im­mig­rant chil­dren at the bor­der to be vol­un­tar­ily and more swiftly re­turned to their home coun­tries rather than be held for de­port­a­tion hear­ings.

That pro­cess is already al­lowed for un­doc­u­mented young im­mig­rants from Mex­ico and Canada.

But if that change hap­pens, a rising num­ber of House Demo­crats now warn, Speak­er John Boehner and oth­er GOP lead­ers will not be able to rely on any votes from Demo­crats to get the pack­age through.

And that could be a big wrinkle, es­pe­cially if Boehner can­not con­vince fisc­al con­ser­vat­ives in his con­fer­ence to go along with whatever new spend­ing the Re­pub­lic­an plan might in­clude for the crisis.

De­tails of that plan, in­clud­ing its an­ti­cip­ated new bor­der se­cur­ity pro­pos­als and oth­er com­pon­ents, are ex­pec­ted to be re­leased by Tues­day, or per­haps even later this week.

House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Hal Ro­gers, R-Ky., on Wed­nes­day told re­port­ers that his com­mit­tee is about “ready on the money part; we have it craf­ted.”

But he said they are still do­ing the policy in­serts, and fi­nal cost cal­cu­la­tions, and would not yet re­lease a spe­cif­ic dol­lar fig­ure.

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