July 12th, 2014
01:28 PM ET
4 months ago

Is law to protect children causing human flood at border? GOP sponsor stands by it

Washington (CNN) - Is a law designed to protect children from human trafficking actually causing a humanitarian crisis along the U.S. southern border, allowing thousands of children to illegally surge into the United States?

Amid the crisis and calls to change the law, one of its chief backers defends it.

“I was very proud to be apart of the sponsoring” of the law, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish in an interview Saturday. “Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery.”

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 added protections for unaccompanied minors who entered into the U.S. illegally. It applied to children from nations that do not border the United States. Child immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have crossed into the U.S. en masse, this year. Because of the law, those child immigrants are not immediately processed for return to their country, whereas children from Mexico are immediately readied for return.

Many - including some Republicans - insist the law is partly responsible for the unaccompanied children pouring into the U.S., and that tweaking the law will stem the flow.

Fortenberry, instead lays much of the blame at President Barack Obama’s feet.

“This problem with the surge of children and families at the border did not occur until 2013,” Fortenberry said. “[It] did not occur in '08, '09, '10, or '11.”

“Five years after this, the reality is this is a convergence of factors of desperate poverty, ungoverned space, as well as an exploitation of our laws. And the president fostered an environment in which in 2012, he suggested that deportations were going to decrease. And I think that was a corollary to [the] exploitation of this law and other factors that have led to this sad, sad, tragic situation along the border.”

Smerconish pressed the congressman on whether or not the law he backed needs to be changed, as even members of his own party have said.

“It is my understanding buried within the '08 law, there is a provision that allows the president to negotiate with the Central American countries repatriation agreements, and that hasn't happened,” he said. “There may be a need to actually fix that portion of the law so that that aspect of the dynamic which has fostered the conditions for the surge of children can stop. But the first thing that needs to happen is some leadership.”

He said that if he could offer advice to the President, it would be to "send National Guard troops to the border, that he help back up the Border Patrol and get the situation under control.”

Meanwhile, will the congressman back the president’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency immigration funds?

“We’re not simply going to give a blank check,” Fortenberry said. “We have to go through this methodically in a sound way to restore order in a situation that’s chaotic.”


Filed under: House • Immigration
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. CT_Yank

    Do any of these GOP fools even understand what a "blank check" is?

    July 13, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. g

    if these kid were fleeing terrorist in Iraq to Jordan republicans would be sending billions to help out

    July 13, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. Lizzie

    Thomas
    Didn't GW Bush sign the child immigration law ?
    - no he did not. But then YOU want to believe that those who cheered and called him a great humanitarian for trying to protect children from human traffickers DID not include democrats and liberals. Funny YOU always need someone to blame, just not those who believe the same thing YOU do.

    July 13, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Lizzie

    CT_Yank
    Do any of these GOP fools even understand what a "blank check" is?
    --actually or what everyone thinks it means, same as WMD, actually or what YOU believe it is.

    July 13, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. bf

    Stop all aid to Mexico and the three other countries now! Send National Guard to the border. Obama and the Democrats are ruining our country. They have no intension of sending them back. They are letting gangs in and realeasing them. A lot of them are males ages 14 to 17. Don't be surprised if some coming across are terrorists. Its time for the American people to stand up and stop this!

    July 13, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    If anything, the GOP INACTION and SITTING ON THEIR HANDS is encouraging the CHILDERN to come here. The GOP doesn't DESERVE to keep ANY of THEIR seats in congress WITH THEIR GOP 7% APPROVAL in the entire country!!!!!!!

    July 13, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. bf

    Change the law asap! These kids also have diseases scabies, lice, tuberclosis, chicken pox, and who knows what else. They will be going to school with our kids. The government is trying to cover it up.

    July 13, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. bf

    The money is not to secure the border its to build ware houses and let them keep coming. No money until they stop the flow!

    July 13, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. joamaeica

    Obama announced on June 15, 2012. that he had signed an executive order that would allow Children who enter the country illegally to no longer be deported because, and I quote... "young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings " So there you have it..Obama is 100% to blame for this. Impeach Obama Now!

    July 13, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Norma jean

    Our country CANNOT police the whole world....We have enormous problems of our own and cannot be responsible for wars and children in other countries!!!!!The Repubs are contantly ranting at the president for problems that Congress should be helping with..and now our party politicians are trying to get us involved all over the world.....Wake up before we all disappear.

    July 13, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. nintex

    The minute I heard that President Obama had asked Congress for money to address this problem, I knew, I just KNEW, that they wouldn't do anything to help him out. I knew they would stall, sit on their hands, make excuses, waste time, and keep yelling "Secure the Border!!" All the while blaming the President for everything under the sun. Sad, so sad, that nothing will get done until the Republicans find some way to keep President Obama from getting credit for fixing the problem.

    July 13, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. rs

    nintex
    The minute I heard that President Obama had asked Congress for money to address this problem, I knew, I just KNEW, that they wouldn't do anything to help him out. I knew they would stall, sit on their hands, make excuses, waste time, and keep yelling "Secure the Border!!" All the while blaming the President for everything under the sun. Sad, so sad, that nothing will get done until the Republicans find some way to keep President Obama from getting credit for fixing the problem.
    ________________
    Well, and who believes they're suddenly concerned about money or the budget?
    Their shutdown temper tantrum cost $24 billion; they cut taxes then started two wars under Bush (never, ever done before in American History); "Deficits don't matter"- D. Cheney; $278 billion in more unfunded tax cuts for the rich just passed in the House.

    No, no, this isn't about the money, it's about the GOP's sick quest to keep anything happening that might, maybe just look like an accomplishment for our President. Unfortunately like the bad shots they are they hurt immigrants, our veterans, the middle class- pretty much our whole nation.
    And the GOP has the nerve to talk about the "takers". They are the worst and most useless Americans.

    July 13, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. rs

    Lizzie
    Thomas
    Didn't GW Bush sign the child immigration law ?
    – no he did not. But then YOU want to believe that those who cheered and called him a great humanitarian for trying to protect children from human traffickers DID not include democrats and liberals. Funny YOU always need someone to blame, just not those who believe the same thing YOU do.
    ___________
    Yes, Lizzie, Bush did sign that law in 2008. It is the same law that Obama is enforcing right now. Stop with your fictionalizing of history- it only makes you look foolish and your arguments very lame.

    July 13, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. len

    Lizzie,

    President Bush did sign the law in 2008 and President Obama is abiding by the law.
    It is a good law, these are children who refugees, who are leaving their country out fear. We have people blocking buses not allowing them to go to shelters. And we call ourselves a Christian nation. Hypocritical, we should be ashamed.
    President Obama asks congress for 1.8 billion dollars so they can hire more people to speed up the process. GOP says no. House passes a bill for $270 billion in unfunded tax cuts for big business. Hypocrits!
    Wake up folks and vote in 2014 and these GOP Tea Party out of office.!!!!

    July 13, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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