A special House “working group” led by Rep. Kay Granger has finalized a draft of its “set of principles” for GOP legislation dealing with the border crisis — including a call for putting an end to the “catch-and-release” system for unaccompanied minors.
Several of the proposals clash dramatically with what House and Senate Democrats say they will go along with.
And the two chambers also appear to be on a collision course for how much funding an emergency bill will contain. Senate Democrats say they will go along with President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion, but House Republicans are looking at less than half of that amount.
Members of the House working group, including Reps. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said a completed package of recommendations by Granger’s staffers was delivered to each of their offices on Thursday morning for a final sign-off.
At least some of the working group’s recommendations are likely to become part of the House Republican alternative to Obama’s proposal. While there could be some last-minute changes, one of the recommendations will be that children should be detained until they see an immigration judge.
The guidelines will recommend this should happen within five to seven days.
“This is a major, major change,” said Salmon. “There will not be those busloads of kids coming in to the various communities; there will not be the family units dropped off at the bus station in Phoenix and Tucson, like they have been before. They will stay detained until they’re adjudicated.”
Salmon did not specify the number of additional judges the guidelines will call for to make this process work.
Other recommendations include:
- Changing a 2008 law to allow allow immigrant children at the border to be voluntarily and more swiftly returned to their home countries rather than be held for deportation hearings. Many Senate and House Democrats, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have already said they would oppose this;
- Providing more National Guard involvement in humanitarian relief efforts, such as help in providing shelter, food, and health care;
- “Changing the narrative” by promoting — perhaps through advertisements in Central America — the notion that the U.S. will send immigrants back home if they do not arrive legally.
House appropriators, led by committee Chairman Harold Rodgers, R-Ky., are also near completion of the funding part of their plan, and have already said their dollar figure won’t come anywhere near the $3.7 billion called for by Obama.
On Thursday, Salmon said he wasn’t comfortable with providing the exact dollar amount — but said it will be “less than half” of what Obama proposed.
That would set up one of an expected several differences for House Republicans with the Democratic-led Senate. There, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said on the Senate floor on Wednesday that she is asking for the full $3.7 billion to be approved.
“There are those who will want to take from other domestic programs. I would caution that, and, in fact, I object to the very idea of that,” she said.
“The president has said this is an emergency — an emergency under the Budget Control Act of 2011. It meets the criteria that it is ‘sudden, urgent, unforeseen and temporary’ and deals with the ‘loss of life or property’ or ‘threat to national security.’ I think it meets that test.”