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.