Faster deportations? A possible border crisis deal - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Faster deportations? A possible border crisis deal

Posted: Updated:
  • NationalMore>>

  • AP source: Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

    AP source: Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:54 AM EDT2014-07-23 05:54:25 GMT
    A law enforcement official and online marketplace StubHub say cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events.
    A law enforcement official and online marketplace StubHub say cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events.
  • Police custody death tests 'Broken Windows' tactic

    Police custody death tests 'Broken Windows' tactic

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:52 AM EDT2014-07-23 05:52:04 GMT
    The recent death of a New Yorker in police custody is calling into question a police crackdown on petty offenses to discourage more serious crime.
    The recent death of a New Yorker in police custody is calling into question a police crackdown on petty offenses to discourage more serious crime.
  • Biden among Urban League meeting speakers in Ohio

    Biden among Urban League meeting speakers in Ohio

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:40 AM EDT2014-07-23 05:40:32 GMT
    National Urban League leaders will focus on jobs and pay in U.S. cities during a conference this week that will draw some top Democratic and Republican politicians courting minority support.
    National Urban League leaders will focus on jobs and pay in U.S. cities during a conference this week that will draw some top Democratic and Republican politicians courting minority support.
By ERICA WERNER and ALICIA A. CALDWELL
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Outlines of a possible compromise that would more quickly deport minors arriving from Central America emerged Thursday as part of President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency request to address the immigration crisis on the nation's southern border.

Republicans demanded speedier deportations, which the White House initially had supported but left out of its proposal after complaints from immigrant advocates and some Democrats. On Thursday, the top House and Senate Democrats pointedly left the door open to them.

"It's not a deal-breaker," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Let them have their face-saver. But let us have the resources to do what we have to do." Her spokesman Drew Hammill later clarified that any changes "must ensure due process for these children."

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: "I'm not going to block anything. Let's see what comes to the floor."

But opposition arose late in the day from key Democratic senators, suggesting battles ahead before any deal could be struck.

"I can assure you that I will fight tooth and nail changes in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said at a hearing on the situation, referring to the law Republicans want to change.

Noting that the arriving migrants include young girls trying to escape sex violence and gangs, Leahy said: "I'm not sure Americans all really feel we should immediately send them back."

Reid and Pelosi made their comments as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both said they didn't want to give Obama a "blank check" to deal with the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at the Texas border, many fleeing gangs and drawn by rumors they would be able to stay in the U.S. Boehner and McConnell indicated policy changes would be necessary to win their support.

"We want to make sure we actually get the right tools to help fix the problem," McConnell said. Obama "needs to work with us to get the right policy into effect."

Proponents of speedier deportations say an effective way to stem the tide of young immigrants crossing the border would be to send them back home right away, to show their parents that the trip north was wasted.

The developments came as Obama's Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, defended the emergency spending request at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said that without the money, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol agencies would both run out of money in the next two months, and the Homeland Security Department "would need to divert significant funds from other critical programs just to maintain operations."

At issue is a law approved in 2008. Passed to give protection to sex trafficking victims, it requires court hearings for migrant young people who arrive in this country from "noncontiguous" countries - anywhere other than Mexico or Canada.

Because of enormous backlogs in the immigration court system, the result in the current crisis is that kids streaming in from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are released to relatives or others in the U.S. with notices to appear at long-distant court hearings that many of them never will attend.

Republicans want the government to have the authority to treat Central American kids the same way as kids from Mexico, who can be removed quickly unless they convince Border Patrol that they have a fear of return that merits additional screening.

"I think clearly we would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico," Boehner said.

White House officials have said they support such changes and indicated last week that they would be offering them along with the emergency spending request. But immigration advocates objected strongly, saying children would be denied legal protections, and the White House has not yet made a formal proposal.

Asked Thursday about the issue, Johnson said he supported changing the law to treat children from Central American nations the same as those from Mexico.

"We want the flexibility in the current situation to have that discretion," he said.

But in response to concerns voiced by Leahy and Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Johnson insisted that the kids still would be protected.

"A request for discretion, as long as I'm secretary, means a request for the ability to do the right thing," he said.

The comment didn't quiet Democrats' concerns.

"You want flexibility. There's danger in flexibility," Harkin said. "The single most important thing is to take care of these kids."

Advocates said they remained strongly opposed to such policy changes and expressed anger that after comprehensive immigration reform failed to advance in Congress this year, lawmakers may be headed toward a vote on deporting minors more quickly.

"They weren't able to get immigration reform done in this Congress and this is going to be the only piece of immigration that gets done, a bill that says we're going to deport children fleeing violence faster," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "If Democrats can't stand up to this and be the party that's protecting children and refugees, it's a really sad day for the country."

More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have arrived since October even as tens of thousands more have arrived traveling as families, mostly mothers with their children.

Many are trying to reunite with family members and to escape a spike in violence in their countries, but they also report hearing rumors that once here, they would be allowed to stay. Republicans blame Obama policies aimed at curbing deportations of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children for contributing to those rumors, something Obama administration officials have largely rejected.

The situation has complicated the already rancorous debate over remaking the nation's immigration laws at a moment when Obama has declared legislative efforts to do so dead and announced plans to proceed on his own executive authority to change the flawed system where he can.

___

AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace in Dallas contributed to this report.

___

On Twitter, follow Alicia A. Caldwell at http://www.twitter.com/acaldwellap and Erica Werner at http://www.twitter.com/ericawerner .

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • US: Russia 'created the conditions' for shoot-down

    US: Russia 'created the conditions' for shoot-down

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:33 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:33:53 GMT
    The Obama administration said Tuesday it would present data from the U.S. intelligence community laying out what's known about the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down in Ukraine.
    Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian...
  • UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:03 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:03:27 GMT
    The Palestinian U.N. envoy says a draft U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip will be formally circulated to the Security Council.
    The U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday it is his "hope and belief" that his emergency mission to the Middle East will lead to an end to the fighting between Hamas and Israel "in the very near future."
  • Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:42:54 GMT
    Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state...
    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel's main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot...