Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Cornyn, Durbin Highlight Divide on Immigration Supplemental

If you want to see the Senate’s divide on a supplemental spending package to address the flood of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border, look no further than the chamber’s two whips.

In separate conversations with reporters, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois expressed different concerns about the crisis.

Durbin said he was not comfortable rolling back part of a 2008 trafficking law without first getting some answers about the well-being of the unaccompanied minors who would be sent back to potentially volatile situations in Central America.

“My concern is when it comes to the three countries that are supplying most of the children, we know now that it’s virtually lawless in these countries. We know as well that there’s terrible poverty and violence going on, and I need some assurance that there’s some basic social service infrastructure to protect them,” Durbin said. “God forbid we take a 10-year-old child and turn them back into the streets and they’re murdered, and then have to answer why they had to leave so quickly and why we didn’t take more care in the way we sent them.”

“I want to make sure that the children who are going through this have proper advocacy and representation,” in expulsion proceedings, Durbin said.

Cornyn agreed with the idea that claims should have a forum for adjudication.

“I think there should be an opportunity, if there’s a colorable claim that you’re entitled to some benefit because you’re a victim of sex trafficking or if you’ve got … a colorable claim for asylum, there ought to be some venue for you to make that claim,” Cornyn said. “But, that’s such a small fraction of all of these cases, so I just don’t think you can release people on a promise to appear which is almost never, never fulfilled and expect this to change.”

The number of migrants with such claims is a point of disagreement. Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said Thursday at an Appropriations Committee hearing on the $3.7 billion immigration portion of the overall $4.3 billion request that the number of children involuntarily displaced may be quite high.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has found that more than 50 percent of these children have been forcibly displaced from their home countries, fleeing gang-violence, rape, domestic violence and human trafficking,” the Vermont Democrat said. “We routinely ask other countries to support refugees fleeing violence. Now it is our turn. Yes, the situation is complicated. Yes, it requires resources. But a country as great as ours can handle it. We must not return to the shameful days when we shut our doors on refugees because it was complicated to take them in.”

Cornyn is supporting legal revisions and funding coming in a single vehicle.

“My hope is sometime maybe late next week, if not then the next week, we can come up with some package that would make sense,” Cornyn said. “They could combine it in the House and send it over here.”

“My sense is we’re going to have to do something and send it to the White House. [Homeland] Secretary [Jeh] Johnson, from my conversations with him, he understands the problem, but I think the president’s got a political challenge trying to, trying to actually do the policy which they talked about doing and they now say they’re going to send over later. But, there’s no reason … not to fix the hole that’s creating this problem now,” Cornyn added.

“I don’t believe there’s been any active negotiation in terms of language yet” with the White House on the legislative policy language, Durbin said, noting that he had talked about the matter with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Durbin also said he had a conversation with President Barack Obama last week about the possibility of legal changes, which the White House had initially signaled might be pushed along with the emergency spending request

“I told him I’m concerned about what’s going to happen to these kids,” said Durbin. “God forbid some of these children go right back into the hands of murders and rapists and we end up being asked, ‘Well, what was the big hurry, United States of America?’”

Separately, Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain announced plans to introduce legislation to provide for expedited removal, as well as boost the number of immigration judges and make other changes to expedite processing of claims. It also would increase the availability of refugee visas for those El Salvador, Honduras and Ecuador to use other channels to apply for refugee status.

“This crisis will continue until the parents who paid thousands of dollars to smuggle their children north to the United States see plane — loads of them landing back at home — their money wasted,” McCain said in a statement.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    We treat the poor and disadvantaged like an incurable disease Our so called “public servants”, now only “serve” themselves , or big corporations, and special interest groups with deep pockets. Since late last December, there have been three million unemployed families without an extension of unemployment benefits, .because Senator John Boehner, and his republican cronies, have refused to pass the bill in the senate. They were more interested in fighting to get the Koch Brother’s oil pipeline passed at all cost. Even if it meant at the cost of the poor and needy. Our country has recently approved billions of dollars for the Ukraine, and billions more on the defense of Europe. We’re asked to send our sons & daughters off to war, but not take care of their unemployed families back here at home. There are now three million unemployed families in financial ruin, many living on the streets, because of the party politics that are going on in Washington. It’s truly appalling.

    • Nunaya Biddness III

      Amnesty does not work; that is a fact, not an opinion. We did this already, remember? If Amnesty worked we would not be in this mess now, and we would not be having this discussion. The simple truth is we don’t need more Immigrants, we need less, and we don’t need any illegals at all…not a one. What we need is for our government to represent the interests of our people and care for our own.

      Starting in 1986 Congress has now passed 7 amnesties for illegal aliens, Seven … and you want to do it again? Are you Simple?

      1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens

      2. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens

      3. Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997: An extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994

      4. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997: An amnesty for close to one million illegal aliens from Central America

      5. Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998: An amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti

      6. Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens

      7. LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens.

      Amnesty does not work … What part of that confuses you?

      • Layla

        The US Chamber doesn’t care if it works. They already know it doesn’t. They are looking for cheap labor and more Obamacare waivers. Immigrants are not covered by Obamacare.

        Whom do you think will get the jobs?

        Vote them out in November, both sides.

  • Nunaya Biddness III

    The question that must be ask and answered is “What will the Supplemental actually do, where did Obama get that $3.7B number and how will it be spent?”

    I’m not talking about the press-release crapola Obama and his Congress-Bots are shoveling now, but the actual text of the final Bill… What does it actually require and correct, and what are the penalties for Obama failing to obey and enforce this law? Because we all know Obama&Co. has shown time and again they do not feel bound by the black-letter text of any law…and after all the lies and deception, only a fool would take them at their word.

    There must be assurances and positive, corrective action beforehand on Obama’s part, and so far Obama has done nothing to stem this tide of illegals his policies created.

    Unless this new Bill directly addresses and corrects the problem while giving Obama and his Administration no option but to finally enforce our laws, and begin immediate deportations with no room to wiggle, why would anyone believe any promise from this guy at all?

  • darrell_b8

    Tell them to come back when they are eligible to vote…..DEMOCRAT of course. Half the money will go to Obama cronies in government unions and ‘nonprofits’ like ACORN.

  • papal

    Durbin should have pushed the “Durbin Amnesty” Plan through congress when dems controlled congress and didn’t need any repub votes. They didn’t even bring it up. That shows that the dems were not serious about amnesty and just wanted it as an “issue”.

  • Five Guyz

    In California, around $8 billion per year is wasted on educating the offspring of illegal aliens.

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