Here Are the House’s Recommendations for the Border Crisis

The House and Senate are now on a collision course.

NOGALES, AZ - JUNE 18: 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. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin-Pool/Getty Images)
National Journal
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Rachel Roubein and Billy House
July 17, 2014, 7:49 a.m.

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.”

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