Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Congressman: We Can’t Just Kick Them Off a Bus in Guatemala

Rep. Blake Farenthold

Farenthold, R-Texas, wants Congress to respond to the surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama deserves blame for much of the misery in overcrowded illegal immigrant facilities on the Southwest border, a conservative Texas congressman told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.

But “instant deportation,” Republican Blake Farenthold said, is no answer to the crisis.

The second-term congressman is part of a group of lawmakers taking a firsthand look this week at Texas facilities that have been stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks as thousands of Central American children and mothers have streamed across the border seeking asylum.

The sudden surge of young immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is a direct result of the president’s rhetoric on immigration, Farenthold said.

“He telegraphed a message that if you’re a kid, you’re gonna get to stay,” Farenthold explained.

But the Corpus Christi lawmaker, who before 2012 redistricting represented the area now at the center of national scrutiny, is also frustrated with many of his constituents — and even with some of his colleagues — who call for instant deportation of “alien” children.

“We can’t just take them to the town square in Guatemala and kick them off the bus,” Farenthold said. “I also make the point that, if I were to send my child on a journey this perilous, child protective services would be knocking on my door trying to take away custody of my children.

“Here’s the thing with border security,” he continued. “Let’s assume it’s 100 percent secure, we catch anybody who crosses the border within a mile of the border, alright? Even if we capture a child, we still have to do something with that child.”

The “national security” and “humanitarian crisis” elements of the child migrant border surge are different, according to Farenthold — a distinction that needs to be clear for both Republicans and Democrats as Congress reconvenes next week with just 16 legislative work days scheduled before the August recess.

Farenthold is part of a congressional delegation led by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., that is touring detention facilities and talking with government officials along the Rio Grande Valley  sector of the U.S.-Mexico border. Also along for the fact-finding trip, according to a Judiciary Committee aide, are Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.; Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia, Fla., and Shelia Jackson Lee, Texas.

On Thursday, the Homeland Security Committee will convene a field hearing in McAllen on the crisis at the border. Among the witnesses expected to testify is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Members also visited the area over the past weekend, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Farenthold hopes lawmakers go back to Washington, D.C., prepared to tackle a specific legislative response to the issue, and that Democrats in particular “take the word back to their colleagues that we cannot wait until we can build consensus on comprehensive immigration reform to deal with this problem.”

Fear that a congressional fix will fall prey to the political debate surrounding immigration more broadly is shared by Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who has been appointed by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to head up a GOP working group to inform and advise the House Republican Conference on how to respond to the crisis.

“I just returned from a trip to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley,” she said in a statement Wednesday morning. “I saw firsthand the humanitarian efforts that are underway by Customs and Border Patrol agents, local officials and community nonprofits. … Throughout my visit one message was clear — please don’t call this an immigration reform issue, this is a humanitarian crisis and we need help now.”

But the issue has been inextricably linked to conversations about immigration overhaul, especially in light of Obama’s speech on Monday in which he announced he would take executive action on his own if Congress won’t act on larger reforms.

Republicans say the crisis on the border is more proof the president isn’t enforcing existing immigration law — and therefore can’t be trusted to enforce any potential overhaul.

At a hearing on the child migrant border crisis on Capitol Hill last week, Goodlatte said in prepared remarks that the Obama administration’s “failure to secure our borders, mitigate threats to national security, or enforce our immigration laws only undermines Congress’s ability to reform our immigration laws.”

Meanwhile, Democrats counter that the crisis highlights the need for a comprehensive fix.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., released a statement following a letter Obama sent to congressional leaders Monday in which he requested emergency appropriations to bolster resources at the border — and expressed a desire to give the Homeland Security department “additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children.”

“There is an important lesson in this: If you fail to institute a safe, legal and orderly immigration process for several decades, chaos ensues,” said Gutiérrez, who has fought hard, on both sides of the aisle, to overhaul the immigration code in 113th Congress. “The same Republicans who have blocked immigration reform and are fanning rumors with claims that President Obama is not enforcing immigration laws and that the U.S. has ‘open borders’ are now saying we need to change our border policies to deport children and families without delay.

“You cannot have it both ways,” Gutierrez continued. “If we had a legal and orderly process for immigration in place, we would have better control over the current situation.”

In Washington next week, there’s no telling what, if anything, the House GOP will do to address the issue head-on.

The first order of business could be a review of the president’s request for emergency funding, a task falling to appropriators but also likely to fall to Granger’s working group (though Granger is, incidentally, the chairwoman of the subcommittee on state and foreign operations).

As for whether leadership might bring up specific legislation, Farenthold predicted that could depend on how the fact-finding visit and field hearing proceed on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Speaker Boehner was very insistent that we have this Homeland Security field hearing down here,” Farenthold told CQ Roll Call. “He basically told [Homeland Security Chairman Michael] McCaul, ‘You really need to do this.’ So I think it indicates that he gets the facts and understands the problem.”



Diaz-Balart: ‘Boehner’s Never Told Me’ Immigration Overhaul Is ‘Dead’

Goodlatte Warns Deportation Changes Hurt Immigration Overhaul Prospects

Immigration Protests Focus on 22 Republicans Across Country

Immigration Overhaul for 2014: Decidedly Not Dead

Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments

Video Shows Boehner Mocking Colleagues on Immigration

Where Do House Republicans Stand on Immigration Principles? (Updated Whip Count)

  • ggm281

    Yep we still have to do something with that child. And the intelligent thing to do would be to bring the entire family that has been “reunited” to an immigration court. But the unaccompanied children issue may be the humanitarian crisis. But it is dwarfed by the families and young adults who aren’t being detained. They are being “processed” and then driven to the local bus station (with tickets purchased by taxpayers) to go wherever they choose in the country. And “catch and release” is a STUPID policy and the very reason we have a “broken immigration system”.
    Canada deports illegal immigrants. Notice how there problems with illegal immigration dwarfs ours??? I wonder if there is a connection?

    • Santiago Alemedia

      Maybe you should take them all into your home.

  • Forums4Justice

    Think about it … Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. for the jobs, and as long as they can find work, or collect entitlements, they have absolutely no reason to leave.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    The Republican Party has failed the American people, especially the three million unemployed families who are STILL without an unemployment extension of benefits since late last December. While they fought in the senate for their bosses the Koch Brothers pipeline bill, they flatly refused to help the unemployed families needing an extension of benefits. These families over the past six months have fallen deeper and deeper into financial ruin and poverty. Many for whom may never get out. It seems when it comes to Foreign aid and to sending our sons and daughters to war, they can all agree on unanimously, but helping the unemployed, and poor, and disadvantaged, they refuse to help. Now both the Republicans & Democrats have seemingly walked away from the issue, leaving these desperate families to continue struggling on their own. Where is the so called “family values” that the republicans like to claim to represent? They have no “values” or common decency or compassion. They all need to be voted from office in this coming elections.


      This is crazy talk. You speak of the Republicans not caring about the worker yet the Democrat party is hell bent on allowing millions of illegal aliens to remain which depresses the market with a glut of workers driving down wages and competing for the few jobs out there! In addition, states where Republicans have come in as governors after Democrats are all succeeding. Why is it that people from the north are moving in droves to conservative states to find work?

    • notthemobnazietc

      No wonder our country is in such bad shape, your worried about you and what you can get free. I was a Dem when Dems believe “Don’t ask what your county and can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Your president and your senate are in control, many bills sitting awaiting Harry Reids attention but he will not let them be brought up before a vote because Dems would have to make a hard vote, vote for the people or vote for Obama’s transforming America into a third world country and get big money for their next campaign.

      • Steven P. Mitchell

        Most of Obama’s policies are simply band-aids to slow the process of losing our grip in the mud. He inherited the economic mudslide, he didn’t create it. Unfortunately for many people, he was unable to figure out how to finance effective “political change”, without getting the foxes guarding the henhouse involved in paying for the support of the henhouse.

  • papal

    Ship them all to DC. DC wants them let DC take care of them


      I bet we could set up camps on the Whitehouse lawn. Sounds good to me.

    • Smith0360

      Amen, and when D C is full, on to Connecticut, and all the other blue states where the bleeding heart liberals live.

  • tom

    If we had a natural disaster in the U.S. and Americans streamed across the border into Mexico this way, the Federales would gun them down.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Watch for the pictures of how Obama treats these people he invited. And, remember he likes them a lot better than he likes citizens. You are looking at your own future under Democrat control.

  • Santiago Alemedia

    Why not send them back on a bus and kick them off. Border Patrol is putting them on buses and kicking them out in the US.

    Suspend whatever law is making it illegal to turn them around and send them home.

  • wttexas

    Yes we can,,,
    put these kids in your yard…
    we must act,,and whatever we do will seem cruel and will be criticized…
    this is what is driving this invasion of children,,,the fact that the US will do nothing…!!!

  • GardenGrl

    The countries where these folks are coming from have governments, it is insulting to pretend that there is no mechanism in place for repatriation of their own citizens. If the countries themselves have abdicated their responsibilities to their own citizens and are looking to the stupid big country to the north as an easy fix, they need to be disabused of this notion.


    But let us all be real. Democrats do not care about the immigrant except for the fact that they are guaranteed future Democrat voters. The American people were promised secure borders in exchange for Amnesty under Reagan (Republican) at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce (looking for cheap labor) and the Democrat Party (looking for future voters). Did it happen? The amnesty sure did. But the tough employment measures, enforcement, and border security did not.

    • David E Barrett

      Exactly! Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, shame on us. Hence the widespread resistance to amnesty.

  • gearbox123

    “We can’t just take them to the town square in Guatemala and kick them off the bus”

    I don’t see why not. It’s more humane than kicking them back across the border to Mexico. They speak the language there. They are closer to home than they would be in Texas. They must have some family in Guatemala (or other Central American countries) otherwise how did they get there in the first place?

    These kids would probably be more “at home” in Guatemala than in Texas, and we – actual Americans – would certainly be better off.

    Congressman Farenthold seems to be having some trouble remembering who his actual constituents are.

  • The Beech Bums

    In Phoenix, illegal aliens account for about 80% of the arrest warrants for murder.

  • Water Dude

    Here we find an example of a high school TB outbreak traced to illegal aliens:

  • Ambas Ador

    In 2007, two illegal aliens were arrested for the rape and murder of 15 years old Dani Countryman.

  • dav

    AMEN, Yonatan ! These selfish folks want to garner all of it for their rich buddies and let the folks with a real need go down the tubes ! ! Soon they won’t have any young folks in condition to enlist in the Armed Services , then the Hawks will be circling the Congress ! ! !

  • dw1206
  • notthemobnazietc

    Why not, you kick them off of buses all around our country? Use the money for busing and flying them around American to take them back to their home country.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    But “WE CAN” just ignore three million unemployed families without unemployment benefits here in this country.

    Senator John Boehner, and his Republican party, has failed the three million of unemployed Americans without an extension of benefits, since late last December. While he fought tooth & nail in the senate, on behalf of the Koch Brother’s Oil Pipeline bill, he used every tactic available to him, to try to kill the extension bill. Him and his cronies have successfully drove millions of struggling families into financial ruin and deep debt, which many might never recover from. While Billions have been approved for the Ukraine, and more for the defense of Europe, these families are left in financial ruin. Over the past six months more and more of these families are facing homelessness. The Government no longer seems to care. They have walked away from the issue. There has been an intentional lack of media coverage of this crisis, in the hope that it would just go away. How can our government walk away from three million American families like this? It’s shameful.

  • Black_Saint

    Migrating to America legally is, and should be, a thorough procedure meant to protect the interests of American citizens. It involves more than simply jumping a fence and heading north in pursuit of free health care, education, food stamps, and other handouts paid for by broke U.S. citizens and a Bankrupt nation!

    Legal immigration means enduring rigorous hurdles like background checks to detect a criminal background or possible ties to terrorists; medical examinations to detect diseases still prevalent in third-world nations, but long since eradicated here; proof of financial solvency so as to prevent newcomers from becoming a burden on U.S. taxpayers, and testing for knowledge of American history and English skills.

    Those who have jumped a fence into America in order to avoid our immigration checks are not immigrants. Rather, they are invading criminals, with no claim whatsoever to the welcome mat extended to legal immigrants.

    Such people do not deserve recognition, sanction or amnesty by the United States, and should be rounded up and deported as soon as possible, alone with the corrupt politicians that support this invasion.

    In truth, illegal aliens have invaded our nation, leaving America vulnerable to undetected crime, terrorism, disease, and financial devastation at the hands of people with no legal or moral justification for being here.

  • Black_Saint

    What if the 12 to 20 Million Illegal Aliens Vacated America ?

    In California, if 3.5 million illegal aliens moved back to Mexico,it would leave an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupt hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the dominant language again.

    In Colorado, 500,000 illegal migrants, plus their 300,000 kids and grandchild’s would move back ‘home’, mostly to Mexico . That would save Colorado an estimated $2 billion (other experts say $7 billion) annually in taxes that pay for schooling, medical, social-services and incarceration costs.

    It means 12,000 gang members would vanish out of Denver alone.Colorado would save more than $20 million in prison costs, and the terror that those 7,300 alien criminals set upon local citizens. Denver Officer Don Young and hundreds of Colorado victims would not have suffered death, accidents, rapes and other crimes by illegals.

    Denver Public Schools would not suffer a 67% dropout/flunk rate because of thousands of illegal alien students speaking 41 different languages. At least 200,000

    vehicles would vanish from our grid locked cities in Colorado .. Denver ‘s 4% unemployment rate would vanish as our working poor would gain jobs at a living wage.

    In Florida , 1.5 million illegals would return the Sunshine State back to America , the rule of law, and English.

    In Chicago, Illinois , 2.1 million illegals would free up hospitals, schools, prisons and highways for a safer, cleaner and more crime-free experience.

    If 20 million illegal aliens returned ‘home’, the U.S.Economy would return to the rule of law. employers would hire legal American citizens at a living wage. Everyone would pay their fair share of taxes because they wouldn’t be working off the books. That would result in an additional $401 Billion in IRS income taxes collected annually, and an equal amount for local, state and city more push ‘1’ for Spanish or ‘2’ for English. No more confusion in American schools that now must contend with over 100 languages that degrade the educational system for American kids. Our overcrowded schools would lose more than two million illegal alien kids at a cost of billions in ESL and free breakfasts and lunches.

    We would lose 500,000 illegal criminal alien inmates at a cost of more than $1.6 billion annually. That includes 15,000 MS-13 gang members who distribute $130 billion in drugs annually would vacate our country.In cities like L.A. , 20,000 members of the ‘ 18th Street Gang’ would vanish from our nation. No more Mexican forgery gangs for ID theft from Americans! No more foreign rapists and child molesters!

    Losing more than 20 million people would clear up our crowded highways and gridlock. Cleaner air and less drinking and driving American deaths by illegal aliens!

    America ‘s economy is drained. Taxpayers are harmed. Employers get rich. Over $80 billion annually wouldn’t return to the aliens’ home countries by cash transfers. Illegal migrants earned half that money untaxed, which further drains America ‘s economy which currently suffers an $16 trillion debt !! At least 400,000 anchor babies would not be born in our country, costing us $109 billion per year per cycle. At least 86 hospitals in California , Georgia and Florida would still be operating instead of being bankrupt out of existence because illegals pay nothing via the EMTOLA Act.

    Americans wouldn’t suffer thousands of TB and hepatitis cases rampant in our country-brought in by illegals unscreened at our borders.Our cities would see 20 million less people driving, polluting and grid locking our cities. It would also put the ‘progressives’ on the horns of a dilemma; illegal aliens and their families cause 11% of our greenhouse gases.Over one million of Mexico’s poorest citizens now live inside and along our border from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California in what the

    New York Times called, ‘colonias’ or new neighborhoods. Trouble is, those living areas resemble Bombay and Calcutta where grinding poverty, filth, diseases, drugs, crimes, no sanitation and worse. They live without sewage, clean water, streets, roads, electricity, or any kind of sanitation.

    The New York Times reported them to be America’s new ‘ Third World ‘ inside our own country. Within 20 years, at their current growth rate, they expect 20 million residents of those colonias. (I’ve seen them personally in Texas and Arizona ; it’s sickening beyond anything you can imagine.) By enforcing our laws, we could repatriate them back to Mexico . We should invite 20 million aliens to go home, fix their own countries and/or make a better life in Mexico . We already invite a million people into our country legally more than all other countries combined annually. We cannot and must not allow anarchy at our borders, more anarchy within our borders and growing lawlessness at every level in our nation.

    It’s time to stand up to our Corrupt politicians that ignore our Constitution against invasion, the rule of Law and their Oath of office for votes and/or money to the determent of this Nation and its citizens!

  • Black_Saint

    Our Immigration system is not broken what is broken is our Political system where we continue to elect corrupt/treasonous politicians that refuse to abide by our constitution against invasion, refuse to enforce our immigration laws and refuse to honor their Oath of office!

  • billyknot2


  • billyknot2

    revolution…revolution…revolution now

  • JonSEAZ

    Next election, we voters can just kick out of congress of not elect to congress any politician who is more concerned about illegal immigrants than they are about Americans and legal immigrants, immigrants who went through the lawful process of coming to America. This so-called crisis is politically driven and we voters need throw out of office every politician who has contributed to it and who supports the political parties and the corporations which clamors and lobbies for unlimited immigration over the interests of all the unemployed and underemployed Americans and legal immigrants. If we quit supporting the business interests in any way associated with the anyone who supports amnesty and other actions detrimental to America, Americans, and legal residents, they suddenly would be more concern about their income stream than their politics. As is, it is greed which now is driving their actions and public attitudes. In essence, the Democrat party sees the illegals as potential votes sufficient to propel the party to permanent ruling status. The corporations simply want cheap, slave-like labor, and such a large pool of it that they don’t have to worry about paying decent wages or offering decent benefits. Our immigration system is broken because the political class and the corporations want it broken. We as a nation and we as individuals are lost unless we quickly wake up and take back our government and eliminate the corporate influence.

  • Curran

    How about sending them to the Congressman’s house until he sends them home? The weary and the sick first. Congressman make sacks full of money.

  • felion48

    Congress should be doing much more to intervene in this crisis created mostly by Obama. Instead, they’re going to take a month’s recess in August while these illegal alien children continue to pour over the border. Thanks a lot for ignoring the majority of Americans who want to send these illegals back to their own countries!

  • tateofpa

    Yep their parents can kick their kids off here, but we can send those kids back to their parents. We are told everyday by the dems we don’t spend enough on our American kids. So now this administration want to take that pie and slice it even thinner, not to mention our schools that we are also told don’t have enough money.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...