Crisis at the Border: Tackling the Unaccompanied Alien Children Humanitarian Issue
We are experiencing an unprecedented crisis on the Texas border.
This year alone, as many as 90 thousand children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are crossing into the United States without their parents. When they get here, they become the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement program.
This recent influx of immigrant children is staggering. Consider that between 2003 and 2011, about 7,000 children per year were landing in the custody of HHS. Last year, it surged to more than 24 thousand children. According to Homeland Security, the number of children border agents will catch in the US this year is expected to more than triple.
What these youngsters are going through is sad and disturbing from a human rights standpoint. But it is also extraordinarily expensive. And taxpayers are footing the bill for the health and safekeeping of these unaccompanied minors, many of whom show up sick and in need of medical care.
It is not fair to the children who are forced into this situation alone. It is not fair to the hardworking taxpayers who diligently make financial sacrifices in order to pay for these migrant children. It is not fair to the border patrol agents who must find a way to deal with this influx of children on our borders. And it is not fair to the American public who are being blocked from information about this terrible situation.
My stance on immigration is steadfast. I strongly oppose granting amnesty to illegal aliens. I believe we must improve enforcement of our immigration laws. And I believe immigration policy must ensure that the contributions of law-abiding, tax paying citizens are not eclipsed by the negative impact that illegal immigration has on our country.
Click around to view and read about some of my efforts to combat this growing crisis.
I introduced legislation that would help us better handle the rising cost of the tens of thousands of UACs who are crossing into the United States from Central America.
The Unaccompanied Alien Children Assistance Control Act, H.R. 5141, would direct the president to reduce foreign aid from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico by $15,000 per child who originated from that particular country. The money saved by this bill could then be redirected to assist states with the rising costs of these children, as well as aid in border security efforts. Read more about this legislation here.
I also signed onto legislation originated by Sen. Ted Cruz and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn that would prevent the continuation or expansion of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
I am a co-sponsor H.R. 5014 led by Randy Weber of Texas, which directs the Secretary of State to suspend all U.S. foreign assistance to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It allows reinstatement of assistance only if Congress determines that these countries have taken sufficient action to mitigate unlawful U.S.-Mexico border crossings.
I also introduced H.R. 4389, the Equal Protection for American Workers Act, that would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from issuing work visas to individuals who have been found to be illegal in the country.
Visits to the Border:
In mid-June, I visited Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where I toured the facility where many of the unaccompanied children are being held while officials attempt to reunite them with family members in the states. Following our tour, I joined Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in a press conference to elaborate on this issue. Watch:
You can also listen to a recap of my trip here:
Further, you can watch my appearance on Fox 4 Dallas, where I discuss the trip and my commitment to this issue, here:
In late June, a week after my trip to Lackland, I toured the intake facility in McAllen, TX. This is the area of the border where immigrants are first processed after crossing into the U.S. What I saw what sad and disturbing, and it only furthered my commitment to doing all I can to help ease this situation.
I went on Inside Texas Politics afterwards to discuss the trip, which you can watch here:
I also called in to KTRH Houston. You can listen to the clip here.
I interrupted debate on the rule for another bill to discuss this issue when it first began in early June. Watch here:
In early July, I took to the House floor to call on the president to visit the Texas border. You can watch it here:
I have signed onto several letters in hopes that something can be done to convince the Obama administration to act on this issue. You can view them here andhere.
At my request, I met with Mr. Eskinder Negash, Director of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to talk about the UAC. ORR is responsible for the care and placement of the UAC once they are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and transported by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
My appearance on MSNBC:
My clip on WMAL can be foundhere under the date 7.10.14. Fast forward to about halfway through.
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It was a privilege to help expand access to mental health care and other critical services for North Texas veterans… https://t.co/zkOv28Pn33