Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Hispanic Caucus Lobbying to Block Trafficking Change

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The CHC held a news conference Friday to discuss changes to a trafficking law. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Democrats are growing increasingly concerned about Republican calls to revise a 2008 human trafficking law in exchange for approving President Barack Obama’s $3.8 billion supplemental funding request to address the child migrant crisis at the Southwest border.

Liberals are doubling down on their efforts to fight for passage of what they call a “clean” supplemental, as some of their colleagues signal they are open to making concessions.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at her weekly news conference Thursday that revisiting the 2008 trafficking law was “not a deal breaker” when it came to her vote on the funding request, with Obama having already said he was open to it, too.

But at a Friday immigration-focused news conference convened by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, members directed their ire at fellow CHC colleague, Rep. Henry Cuellar.The Texas Democrat plans to introduce legislation that would change a provision in the 2008 act, known as the “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act,” to allow all children apprehended at the border to opt to voluntarily return to their home countries rather than await deportation hearings. The law currently permits only children from countries “contiguous” to the United States to “self-deport,” and broadening that permission would address overcrowding at detention centers, among other things, Cuellar and other proponents argue.

Democrats by and large oppose the move, arguing it would strip existing law of crucial protections to shield youth from exploitation, abuse and harm.

“Henry Cuellar does not represent the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” CHC Chairman Rep. Rubén Hinojosa told reporters. “He’s a Blue Dog. He comes to the meetings once in a long time and what you are hearing now is a unanimous voice of those who have been participating in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”

Nearly a dozen CHC members — all Democrats — participating in the new conference said they strongly support passing a policy rider-free supplemental and disapproved of any potential compromise that would alter the 2008 law. There are 26 CHC members.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois, one of Democrats’ most vocal members on immigration issues who has never hesitated to criticize his party, or the president, stopped short of saying that the CHC would oppose a supplemental with built-in conditions.

“We should cross those bridges when we get there,” he said, adding that he personally would only back a “clean” bill and that he will not be voting for any funding package that included changes to the trafficking law. He views the proposed change as abdicating the rights of children established in other legislation in 2002, 2007 and 2008.

In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona said he was fearful of the repercussions should Democrats not stand united against changes to the 2008 trafficking law. Grijalva is also CHC immigration task force member.

“The law has become the negotiating middle ground for whether or not the president gets what he needs and wants for those agencies in terms of the supplemental,” Grijalva told journalists from CQ Roll Call and The Washington Post joining C-SPAN for the interview.

“I think that’s a mistake. … Mr. Cuellar is already supporting that concept of eliminating that law,” he continued, “and I worry that that by us not being firm on that human trafficking law that everybody voted for, even the most ardent-anti-immigrant, anti-reform folks in the Congress — [Iowa Republican Rep.] Steve King voted for that — at this point I think it is a step backwards and it jeopardizes support for the supplemental on the other end, and I count myself in that category.”

Speaking with CQ Roll Call following the news conference, Gutierrez said in addition to the meeting that CHC members anticipate having with Obama in the days ahead, caucus members would be making the rounds to fortify a united position on Capitol Hill against potential policy riders in the supplemental that would be tantamount to “poison pills” for Democrats.

“We’re going to meet with the Black Caucus, we’re going to meet with the Progressive Caucus. We’re going to meet with one caucus after another,” he said. “And let me just tell you: The Democratic Caucus members, they’ve all come to me. They’ve all said, ‘We can’t allow [Republicans] to undermine the law. We’re the party to protecting children.'”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, told CQ Roll Call that the 42-member strong contingent did not yet have a position on the issue.

“I’m going to wait ‘til he reaches out, see what he says,” Fudge said. “We have not discussed it.”

Meanwhile, Democrats await word from Republicans on what the supplemental funding package will actually look like, anticipating it will indeed include riders and recommendations from a special GOP border crisis task force that will present its first report to the Republican Conference Tuesday.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., would not hint at any substantive details, but did give one clue as to what members might expect: Less money.

The $3.8 billion ask from the president is simply “too much,” Rogers told reporters Friday.

Emily Ethridge contributed to this report.


Related stories:

President’s Party Asks Why He’s Avoiding the Border

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

Obama ‘Happy to Consider’ Sending National Guard to Border to get Votes on Supplemental

A Tale of Two Congressional Visits to the Southwest Border

Obama’s Bill for Border Surge Gets Frosty Reception on the Right

Obama Asking Congress for $4.3 Billion for Border Crisis, Wildfires

On Climate Change, Landrieu Stands With Coal, Against Obama

Alone, Illegal and Underage: The Child Migrant Crisis

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    Both the republicans and democrats have forgotten the three million unemployed families STILL without an extension of unemployment benefits, since late last December. Since the republican party’s refusal to pass the bill, these past six months has proven financially disastrous for these families. Many have faced evictions, home foreclosures, bankruptcies, and homelessness. While the republicans fought tooth & nail to pass the Koch brother’s oil pipeline bill, they totally dismissed these unfortunate families. Recently congress approved a billion dollar aid package for the Ukraine, and spending even more money on the defense of Europe, both political parties have walked away from these struggling families all together. We no longer here anything from them or the news media. It’s as if these millions of families disappeared off the face of the earth. It’s a sad commentary on the lack of compassion our government has for our poor and unemployed in this country. IT’S TRULY APPALLING

    • SemperFi1946

      What unemployment benefits forever? It has become a new form of welfare the Democrats use to look compassionate when all they really care about is government dependent voters to keep them in power.

  • SemperFi1946

    Traitors all! Our country is being destroyed in front of our eyes yet where is the outrage? Every change in any society only took place after massive demonstrations and protests in the streets of that country’s capitol. Why are people in America not flooding the capital like the people did in Berlin in 1989, Tahir Square in Cairo, Tiannamen Square in Beijing and all the other nations? America has become a country of lazy couch potatoes, bloggers and sports fanatics that are all too busy whining and complaining rather than getting physical and in the streets to demand change. So called conservative leaders like Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin and all the rest should be using their influence to call for massive protests and marches and organize them with their contacts and considerable wealth. Nothing will get done until the 545 ruling elites see the people have had enough and are not going to take anymore – just like in the 60s and 70s!!!

    • Republicans_are_Evil

      The sky is falling!

      • ShadrachSmith

        No, he didn’t say the sky is falling, he said the Democrat Party is full of traitors. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

        • Republicans_are_Evil

          He is a coward, like all right wingers. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

          • Dave R

            You are the ignorant who believe the lies of the democrats. Bone head comes to mind

          • Republicans_are_Evil

            How do you know what I believe? You are not God. Are you hearing voices?

  • Nunaya Biddness III

    I wonder if we could get Rep. Rubén Hinojosa to explain why any of our Representatives, Latino or otherwise would place the interests of Foreign Nationals over the welfare of our own people, and why they think Americans would be Ok with that? Someone needs to remind them who they work for and asking them why they don’t support Americans..

    The ‘Victim’ here is the American People; Not the illegal Immigrants. It is the American working class, the American Middle Class and Working poor of All Colors who are paying the bill for this unchecked invasion of Illegals into our nation, Cities, town and neighborhoods. What do you Owe the thief that sneaks into your house? Do you Owe that criminal a bed, meal and health care and welfare check?

    We need to hold our Government accountable and demand our Representatives do their job, Represent us, and do what is right for Americans. No illegal has a right to be here, and we don’t need to import workers or poor; we need to take care for our own.

    • stoplyin7722

      You’re presenting a false choice: “foreign nationals versus our own people.” It’s not one or the other.

      Under the law unaccompanied migrant children are entitled to due process. That means they get to see a judge who will decide whether they stay or go back.

      They are trying to take the power from a judge and give it to the BP. That’s like taking away the right to go to court and just letting the police decide a case.

      • Nunaya Biddness III

        of course we need to correct the law…it was created to address the trafficking of children for sex slavery, and was never meant to cover anything like this flood of illegals at our borders.

        Someone needs to ask the Democrats opposed to this rational correction of our laws why any American, Latino or otherwise would place the interests of Foreign Nationals over the welfare of our own people, and why would any American be Ok with that?

        We should be asking those Latino ‘Representatives’ just who it is the are representing, and why they do not support and act in the best interests of Americans.

        • anAmericanMom

          I can tell you why? Because they have an allegiance to Mexico, first and foremost.

          But then again I do not see too many in office who I consider Loyal to Americans.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    Senator John Boehner, and his republican cohorts in the senate, are directly responsible for the three million unemployed families, STILL without an extension of benefits since late last December. They have single handedly pushed these families into further financial ruin and deep poverty, over these last six months, without an extension bill. While they fought vigorously on behalf of the Koch brother’s oil pipeline bill, they totally disregarded the suffering of these families. While congress approved billions of dollars in aid for the Ukraine, and more money set aside for the defense of Europe, these American families were left hung out to dry. Recently more money is requested to support the illegal migrant children pouring undisrupted into our country, at the border. The president is planning on assisting these children with tax payer’s dollars. While this is commemorated, what about the three million unemployed Americans that have been forgotten about, who are still in a desperate financial situation, in our own country? Why are our poor and unemployed never a priority to our own government??

    • left wing


    • Dave R

      The destruction of this country falls in the hands of democrats, those in office and those who vote for them. The democrats have bullied the public into thinking the republicans are at fault, another lie. The only things democrats are good at is taking from the working class and lying to the public. This is not a crisis of immigrants it is a crisis of ILLEGALS allowed to stay here by democrats. WTFU and vote out these NAZIS. Uneducated voters are the true democratic party, and the rich who donate far more to the dems then the reps. Talk about the Koch brothers and you show ignorance to the facts. There are many more rich buying democrats, unions being the most destructive.

  • Thomas Brady

    Even if democratically elected, a centralized government devoid of principles will be rapidly forced to submit to the principles of others.

  • anAmericanMom

    –House Democrats are growing increasingly concerned about Republican calls to revise a 2008 human trafficking law in exchange for approving President Barack Obama’s $3.8 billion supplemental funding request to address the child migrant crisis at the Southwest border.–

    Congress WALK AWAY.

    $3.7 Bil now 3.8 billion who put their thumb on the scale

    $3.8. Billion could help a lot of Americans get back to work if you offered that as SMALL businesses lines of credit.

    Credit means get money back what a concept!!

  • anAmericanMom

    This congress with the doltz leading it smacks of whimpering losers one and all.

    Spell out a million and one things that amount of money COULD/ SHOULD be used for.
    IF WE HAD it!??
    Make sense and make a good argument. Cave and we pull a cantor

  • Statesrights

    I used to be tired of the preferential treatment that Hispanic
    “advisors” received from this administration. Now, I am angry at the Hispandering that is so blatantly demanding open borders.

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