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Obama may hold fix to flood of immigrant kids

Relatives carry to a local cemetery, the coffin containing the remains of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, a Guatemalan boy whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, in San Jose Las Flores, Guatemala, Saturday, July 12, 2014.  The 15-year-old Guatemalan migrant was buried in his hometown Saturday, nearly a month after he became a symbol of the perils facing unaccompanied children who have been flooding illegally into the U.S. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Relatives carry to a local cemetery, the coffin containing the remains of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, a Guatemalan boy whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, in San Jose Las Flores, Guatemala, Saturday, July 12, 2014. The 15-year-old Guatemalan migrant was buried in his hometown Saturday, nearly a month after he became a symbol of the perils facing unaccompanied children who have been flooding illegally into the U.S. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

President Obama can take action to relieve much of the crisis caused by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the southern U.S. border without waiting for what is likely to be a contentious and lengthy congressional battle, said two key lawmakers, one Democrat and the other Republican.

At issue is a provision in a 2008 human trafficking law that puts the fate of young immigrants from countries that don’t border the United States in the hands of immigration judges. The Obama administration has expressed some interest in asking Congress to change the law to give the administration more leeway in dealing with the crisis. It can take years for cases to make their way through immigration courts.

But Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that wholesale changes by Congress may not be necessary and that Obama has the authority to return the children to their native countries. Since October, more than 57,000 children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala, have crossed the Mexican border without their parents.

Obama “has tools in his toolbox” to solve quickly what most officials say has become a humanitarian crisis and to deter more children from coming to the Unites States, Rogers said.

“We can safely get them home,” Rogers said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And that’s where the president needs to start. So he needs to re-engage, get folks who are doing administrative work on the border. They need to make sure they send a very clear signal.”

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the author of the provision in the human trafficking law, said a change in regulations, not the law, could speed the children’s return.

The law already allows the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to write regulations to deal with “exceptional circumstances” that would allow officials to return the children more quickly to their home countries, Feinstein said.

“I would urge HHS and DHS to sit down and set the exceptional circumstances – it may be the number of children coming through in a week or a month, however you see it – and how the process might be modified to give you more time,” she said Thursday during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on a $3.7 billion emergency budget request from the White House to deal with the growing crisis on the border.

Feinstein did not elaborate on what changes to the current system she believed the law already allows the president to make.

Under the current law, the Homeland Security Department has 72 hours to transfer child immigrants traveling alone to the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Amid the crush of children traveling alone, more than 39,000 other people traveling with their families, mostly mothers and young children, have also been caught in South Texas. An undisclosed number have been released into the community with notices to report back to immigration officials or in court at a later date.

Obama said the $3.7 billion in emergency spending would help the government deal with the flood of unaccompanied child immigrants crossing the border in South Texas. Some of the money would go to help pay for about 40 additional immigration judge teams.

Federal immigration courts have a backlog of more than 375,000 cases. It can often take several years for an immigrant to receive a final ruling.

Republicans have balked at the size of Obama’s spending request, arguing that he needs to do more to secure the border and do more to stop immigrant children from making the trip from Central America in the first place.

Legacy Comments5

Oh wise one please share your wisdom and tell me, how pray tell did Obama cause this? I know he is responsible for the flooding along the Mississippi, wild fires out west, and kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. Just what has he done to cause this immigration issue, I must have missed the news that day?

He's the President isnt he?? The States didnt do anything to cause this. The immigration laws are the same as they were 6 years ago...Who is left??? Ha! This is a riot...the left cant blame Bush, congress, or use any of their favorite excuses...comes right back to Obama...and they are left talking about flooding along the Mississippi, wild fires out west, and kidnapping the Lindbergh baby....the usual twaddle.

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I think it's because he promised "change", but nothing has changed in this regard. Um, actually, it's a lot worse...

Pertaining to the thousands of children crossing our Southern Border. Obama caused it. He will take action on this problem just about as fast as he has on the long laundry list of other serious problems his lack of leadership has caused. Our Country cannot absorb and support thousands of children. Also, they are not being screened medically, carry diseases and are being sent to States across America. They will be attending school with your kids. This administration must get serious about closing the border and sending these children back home. Wonder how many terriorists have slipped in with them? What is really disheartening, Obama is using children for political reasons. He could care less about the welfare of those kids. What a disaster this man and his administration is. I hope our Country can survive all this. It is getting scary!!

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