Bipartisan border bill unveiled, prospects uncertain
July 14th, 2014
06:43 PM ET
9 years ago

Bipartisan border bill unveiled, prospects uncertain

(CNN) - Bipartisan legislation to curb the flood of unaccompanied minors at the southern border was unveiled Monday by two lawmakers from Texas.

Sponsors believe the compromise could lead to a quick exodus for most young migrants from Central America, as demanded by Republicans, while offering an appeals process for those who may be eligible to stay, which is supported by many Democrats.

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It remains to be seen whether the proposal, authored by Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, can bridge the gap between the parties on the politically-volatile immigration issue.

But with Congress just three weeks away from its summer recess, it is likely to be prominently in the mix of solutions to the burgeoning crisis.

“My hope is that as people begin to see this is a bipartisan solution to a real problem they’ll come on board,” Cornyn told reporters.

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The legislation would modify a 2008 law aimed at combating human trafficking by removing a requirement that all unaccompanied minors not from Mexico or Canada get a mandatory hearing before an immigration judge before being deported.

It is widely believed the hearing requirement in the Bush-era law contributed to the current problem by creating a backlog of cases.

Many Central American parents seem to believe their children will be able to take advantage of the lengthy process and ultimately stay in the United States.

The proposal, however, would allow children who are the victims of human trafficking or have a credible threat of persecution to appear before a judge to seek asylum.

The bill would require immigration judges to make a decision within 72 hours of a child making a claim.

“Most importantly to me is it actually gets the kids in front of a judge who can determine if there is any basis for relief under existing law,” Cornyn said. “If there is not, than they would be repatriated.”

Republicans who control the House have not decided if they will move the Cornyn/Cuellar bill. They are waiting to hear recommendations on Tuesday from a working group of lawmakers, which traveled this past weekend to Guatemala.

Last week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did not reject the idea of treating all immigrant children the same, but she has not commented on the current proposal.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to meet with a group of conservative southern Democratic House members on the issue on Monday.

Right now, Cornyn and Cuellar have no Democratic sponsors in the Democratic-led Senate. In fact, several influential Democrats – including Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey – have been highly skeptical of the emerging proposal.

Durbin said last week he could not support changing the 2008 law unless it met two criteria: That children appearing at immigration hearings have legal representation and that the United States have assurances about the quality of the “social infrastructure” those returned would face in their home countries.

“I want to make sure that the children who are going through this have proper advocacy and representation. In downstate Illinois, you wouldn’t turn a 10-year-old loose in a courtroom without somebody standing next to them who can explain what is happening to them. I think that we owe to these children as well,” Durbin said.

The Cornyn proposal relies on existing law that calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to seek out pro bono legal counsel but it does not require that immigrants have legal counsel.

He dismissed Durbin’s proposal as “lawyering up.”

“I think that would be a disaster for our immigration system. Basically saying everybody who enters the country illegally is entitled to a taxpayer paid-for lawyer. And you not only have a right to a lawyer at the immigration judge stage but you also have a right to appellate review. I mean these can obviously go on for years and that would serve the goal of some of the people who want to come because it would be years before they were ever deported,” Cornyn said.

Filed under: Congress • Immigration
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    “Most importantly to me is it actually gets the kids in front of a judge who can determine if there is any basis for relief under existing law"

    The one question CNN won't answer for us: which judges and who is appointing them?

    Yeah. When it comes to TX, I'm guessing you can expect there to be remarkably few cases that ever qualify for asylum.

    July 14, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. Gary

    I hope President Obama doesn't screw it up by saying he likes it. That would surley end the bipartisanship.

    July 14, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    If we don't stop Coyote Obama from importing these people...........little will be accomplished.

    July 14, 2014 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |

    Dems are jinxd ? Self made . It will follow them to their end .

    July 14, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. joamaeica

    Illegal aliens....They're uneducated, uninformed and dependent on government. they fit the "Democrat's Core Constituents Template" PERFECTLY!

    ....which is exactly WHY the Democrat party is actively recruiting them!! If you think these kids just randomly showed up on our southern border all at once, then YOU are a fool. They were recruited from 3rd world countries by democrat operatives who paid their parents money to send them to the USA. That is a FACT!

    These kids are NEVER going back to their own country, AND, you can bet that the Democrat politicians already have a plan in place to bring their parents and sibling here too...all in the name of "compassion" of course.

    This entire scenario is nothing more than the Democrat Party making sure they have a healthy supply of "stupid" for future elections.

    July 14, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. joamaeica

    Local ranchers on the border have to contend with torn-up fences, broken water lines, contaminated wells and robbery on a daily basis from illegal immigrants streaming through. But the big deal here isn't just the hordes of Central Americans crossing over but we are getting invaders from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other middle eastern countries which is a significant national security concern!!. Why hasn't the national guard been deployed to the border already???

    July 14, 2014 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Why do 70% of the worlds poorest want to emigrate to America , Australia or Europe ?

    Is there something going on in the world that we need to know to make this planet a staple place ?

    Why do People tent to have more children in times of war ?

    Overpopulation is never talked about , don't we all want a quality of life ?

    July 14, 2014 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. neutral observer

    They don't need a bill to solve this. This is a ploy to pass amnesty. 1) Make the border impassible, using national guard. It is a shame that the druggies out gun the border patrol Put the nat guard out there with superior fire power. 2. Make all govt agencies who shelter illegal immigrants and private business's who knowingly hire illegal immigrants financially responsible for the services they use and damages they cause. 3. End the motivation for coming here by allowing children born here citizenship only if their parents are here legally

    July 14, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  9. neutral observer

    People talk as if only now is this a political/economic crises are intentionally ignorant. Oh, gee just now it s? was it 30 years of open borders that caused it? Or how about offering free EBT cards and bene's for 30 years? Or was it closing us parks (in AZ) due to drug runners? How about people here illegally "demanding" more free stuff while we work paying taxes? Or was it how CA prevented law enforcement from asking for proof of insurance at traffic stops? Now it is a political scheme?? Only now??? And guess what, if we make them all legal (amnesty) they will be due equal pay which will make the labor they provide no longer cheap,...meaning yet again there will be a demand for the illegal, illegal immigrant, to continue the cheap labor and because or borders are still pourous, you can be the game will continue on.

    July 14, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. neutral observer

    When the proverbial life boat is too full and the whole thing tips and it is too late to recover, imaging all the wailing then.

    July 14, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. neutral observer

    Just think, they will benefit from affirmative action in college and jobs, due to "past injustices" done to them, Shame on us for "forcing" them here and getting all that free stuff. Why just asking for a fair shake will be such "ha!e speech".

    July 14, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. joamaeica

    I live in a border state that is being overrun with illegals. The hands of our border patrol have been tied. Border patrol officers are no longer allowed to use guns. They have been issued pellet guns and tazers. If illegals throw rocks at them, they are required to back off.

    These are the rules of engagement for boarder patrol set by the obama administration....Michael Fisher, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, issued a directive on March 7, 2013. that instructs border agents to retreat when illegals throw rocks or other objects at them, and to avoid blocking drug smugglers’ vehicles by stepping away from them. U.S. Border Patrol is ruled by new policies that restrict the use of force by agents. The new rules come amid the revelation that illegal immigrants are entering the U.S. at record rates and overwhelming federal resources.
    Under the new restrictions, Border Patrol agents will be required to avoid situations where deadly force may be used. "Examples include refraining from blocking moving vehicles' paths or firing at rock-throwers unless in imminent danger, the Huffington Post reported. "Additionally, agents will be trained on how to carry and use lighter weapons, while also facing restrictions on Tazer use."

    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 straight from the white house web site... "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 "

    This has all been done on purpose!! Obama wants these people here, and you can bet, he will never deport them all and will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop the flow!

    July 14, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  13. bf

    Durbin has a lot of nerve when Chicago is a disaster zone. Send all the illegals to Chicago and watch how fast Durbin changes his mind. Vote him out of office he doesn't care about Americans, just the hispanic vote.

    July 14, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  14. king

    why oh why does dems or repubs ever comes up with bills in the house, the party of no will come up with an excuse to say no if they think obama will get credit implementing it. that if boener will even bring it to floor because of the fear he has for the tea party.

    July 14, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  15. vikingwoman

    I suppose this is a delicate issue & must be handled w/ kid gloves, so to speak, but, how will these kids be cared for? As an immigrant who came here as a child w/my family by legal means, I find this situation horrific! On 1 hand it's like refugees & on the other it's like taking advantage of our good nature! The nations who sent these kids here apparently had signs up encouraging parents to take these drastic measures! I think they (the nations & parents)need to be held accountable! How will we feed, clothe, house these kids? My vote is getting their nations of origin involved! That would be, if Congress can stop quibbling & squabbling long enough to get anything done & that's a huge If! We'll just have to wait & see, while the kids wait in 'weigh stations'!!

    July 15, 2014 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  16. Frank

    What about the 3.3 million families who were cut off from un employment after 26 weeks? This is a humanitarian crisis here that has gone long unaddressed. These people are suffering and many are losing everything.

    July 15, 2014 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  17. J.V.Hodgson

    As usual we kind, charitable Americans who love kids allow our politicians to conflate issues.
    We made a law in 2008 and we must abide by that.
    The answer is to repeal it forthwith, and on the date it is signed into law, surrendering to ICE or border control gets you on a plane to your country of origin within 72 hours with notice to local governments with as much data as the kids will tell us we can even help with money for local religious charities to build reception centers as temporary refuge until reasonable permanent home is found.
    The only reason for not doing that is conflating the issue of their home base conditions as our responsibility i.e they may be killed by drug gangs or whoever.
    Spend the Obama $3-4bn on law enforcement back in the three countries/ and as above .... but the message is clear to parent that's not the solution.... force your local police and law enforcement to stop these Crimes against kids at Home.
    Parents already here illegally??) whose kids are deported back home need to consider, thie own personal " family responsibilities" ala American style .
    What was that OLD ADAGE ... SOMETHING ABOUT "CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. " not illegally in the US.

    July 15, 2014 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  18. Anonymous

    The problem is that we're not going far enough!

    We must deploy the Navy to Africa for mass relocation campaigns for all HIV positive orphans with secondary tuberculosis, right after they're just old enough to be indoctrinated against birth control, and then prioritize them in decreasing order of contagious, incurable, and preferably sexual medical conditions–to be interred in our public schools, and then deployed as a child-army, delivering meals to all our seniors, until TB infection kills off everyone with compromised immune system–which, let's face it, is just about all of them.

    I know it seems a little insensitive to flood our schools with AIDS patients and kill off our elderly with TB, but they're just so sick. Does it really matter? I mean, they're white, so God obviously never liked them anyway.

    Destroying our country is about children, so support mass immigration or else you hate children.

    You don't hate children... you?

    July 15, 2014 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  19. WhineO

    $3.7 BILLION for illegal immigrants?
    – no guarantee of border security
    – enough loopholes and exemptions to render any security or provisions of law enforcement moot.

    – no money for our US vets
    – no money for our homeless childeren
    – no money to get out economy really running

    Simple bill that guarantees border security. But Obama and the Dems would rather stab each and every US Citizen and LEGAL US Immigrant in the back with Amnesty.

    July 15, 2014 05:57 am at 5:57 am |

    Guns Over People teatards,as usual, will block any progress. They want no solutions. They want to blame President Obama for a 2003 George Bush law right up until November.

    July 15, 2014 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  21. a concerned citizen

    Seen this morning, refugees coming to my area in Michigan, and the citizens dont like like it, I don't either to be perfectly honest, we have to draw the line somewhere. Many here on visa's get government money, for business, that our own citizens wanting to become business owners, enough, when I leave my town and even in my small town, foreigners everywhere, enough, were already to melted of a pot.

    July 15, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  22. a concerned citizen

    True colors here folks, can't wait until their the ones making moral decisions in your life rwnj, don't go broke, and don't get sick, God fearing Christians, with wholesome family values. Money required, of course, the more money, the more compassion.

    July 15, 2014 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  23. yolanda

    This is a true litmus test. Though far from perfect, it is a starting point. It would be extremely refreshing to see both sides drop the rhetoric and accomplish something for the good of the country. Sadly, Santa doesn't usually make an appearance this time of year......

    July 15, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Senator Jon Cornyn. What a character this guy is. But, he's par for the Republican Party. Cornyn has been one the most vocal critics of Pres. Obama not visiting the border during his trip to Texas last week. Cornyn was also one the President's most vocal critics when he did make a photo op during a previous trip to Texas. Like I said, Cornyn is par for the right wing, hypocrisy at its' best.

    July 15, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  25. Donna F

    Will ISIS teens get to stay also if they come through the Texas border?

    July 15, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |