Congress adjourned for a five-week recess with no agreement on how much to spend on the costly illegal immigration crisis or what to do about it.
A system that, a decade ago, handled just 6,000 illegal immigrant minors a year has been flooded with more than 57-thousand since last October, most from Central America.
President Obama wants $3.7 billion dollars in emergency funds for the final two months of this fiscal year: $1.8 billion of that to feed and house the minors. $1.2 billion for processing.
Marc Rosenblum is with the nonpartisan think tank Migration Policy Institute.
Sharyl: “Quite literally, where does the money come from? We don’t have extra money in the treasury.”
Rosenblum: “Congress can spend money that it doesn’t have. We run a deficit in many years.”
But Congress isn’t even close to agreeing on how much extra money to provide.
Republican Congressman of Texas Randy Weber says, “The President won’t use what he has now to enforce the law. So we want to give him more to, what, not enforce the law more?”
Weber says money should first come from the countries whose citizens are fleeing in droves.
“We’re gonna stop your foreign aid and you’re gonna pay for that until you start helping us stem the tide.”
Sharyl: “Is your remedy no extra money?”
Weber: “The president has got the wherewithal, the authority, and has had the money to secure the border from day one. He refuses to do so.”
The Democrat-led Senate proposed $2.7 billion dollars to cover the last two months of this fiscal year. The Republican-led House: $694 million. Of the total, Democrats would give Health and Human Services $1.2 billion more for housing and humanitarian assistance. Republicans: $197 million. Under Democrats, Homeland Security would get an extra $1.1 billion dollars. Republicans: $405 million.
But the whole issue is so contentious, the Senate didn’t even vote before Congress’ five-week summer vacation.
Meantime, the problem—and the expenses—continue to build.
Rosenblum says they’re manageable.
“The United States, in terms of our population and in terms of GDP, we can handle taking care of 50,000 kids if, you know, what’s what our hearts tell us to do.”
Weber: “When you grow a government bureaucracy, you’ve got a larger criminal justice system, more immigration lawyers, more immigration judges, more immigration courthouses, a bigger system.”
Sharyl: “Does it ever shrink back?”
Weber: “That’s the $64 question.”
Even with emergency funds in limbo, the White House already announced $380 million in June for programs to help Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador–where most of the minors are said to be fleeing poverty and violence.
Additional facts: A decade ago, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares for minors soon after they are picked up, handled just 6,200 kids a year. By 2013 that figure had ballooned to almost 25,000. Since October, more than 57,000 children have arrived by themselves, most from Central America, and 22,000 more have been detained with their parents. While the majority of those caught are teenagers, the greatest increase has been among children younger than 12. –from: “The Logistical Nightmare of Sending 57,000 Immigrant Kids Home,” Esmé E. Deprez, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 24, 2014
As of the end of June 2014, the number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts has climbed to an all time high of 375,503 — an increase of more than 50,000 since the start of FY 2013. Preliminary figures indicate that the number of cases involving juveniles has climbed to 41,640, with more arriving daily. As of the end of June 2014, the court backlog for juveniles from Guatemala is the largest with 12,841 cases, closely followed by Honduras (12,696) and El Salvador (12,162). –from: government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.