Republicans Revive US Border Security Bills To Speed Deportations

 
on August 01 2014 4:53 PM
John Boehner
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) arrives for a Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington Aug. 1, 2014. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives planned to vote on Friday on revised border security legislation that would make it easier to deport Central American child migrants from the southwestern border, satisfying a key demand from conservative Republicans.

House Republican lawmakers said they will try again to pass two separate bills that failed to win enough support from the party on Thursday amid a revolt influenced by Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party firebrand from Texas.

But both bills have virtually no chance of becoming law, as the U.S. Senate is not expected to consider them and the White House had previously issued a veto threat. The Senate failed to advance its own $2.7 billion border funding plan on Thursday.

One bill provides additional funding for border security and to care for tens of thousands of migrant children who have flooded over the border in recent months.

The other bill would help speed deportations of children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, while also reversing much of President Barack Obama's two-year-old policy that suspended deportation efforts against children brought to the United States illegally by their parents before mid-2007.

The revived House vote, expected on Friday evening, is largely aimed at aiding Republican lawmakers' re-election efforts by allowing them to return to their home districts during the coming summer recess and say they took action to halt the flow of illegal immigrants.

The child migrant crisis, with nearly 60,000 minors arriving at the U.S. border since October, has become an increasingly hot topic ahead of the mid-term elections in November.

"This will change the immigration debate and it will change the decisions that are made by people in Central America," said Tea Party-backed Representative Michelle Bachmann, adding that she now supports the measures.

The House funding bill aimed to add $35 million in federal reimbursements for states that deploy National Guard troops to secure the border with Mexico, bringing the total to $694 million, lawmakers said after a closed door meeting of Republicans.

NO NEW FUNDS EXPECTED SOON

But with legislation stalled in the Senate, no new money is expected to be immediately available to immigration and border control agencies, leaving them to scrape by on dwindling budgets through the five week congressional recess ending in September.

The House measure aimed at swifter deportations contains stronger language to ensure that the Central American children are treated the same as Mexican children.

It also seeks to ban new child migrants from being admitted into the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Many Republicans blame that program for encouraging families in Central America to send unaccompanied minors on treacherous journeys to the U.S. border - even though it was designed to apply only to children crossing before mid-2007.

In a key reversal, the measure aims to prohibit those currently protected under the program to have their status renewed after two years.

The changes were aimed at winning the votes of enough Republicans to pass in the face of unanimous Democratic opposition.

"We're going to pass this today," said Republican Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona. "Several people who were noes got up and publicly stated at the microphone that they've switched from no to yes."

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