August 6th, 2014
05:08 PM ET
9 years ago

Biden: Lawyers needed to help solve ‘heart wrenching’ border crisis

Washington (CNN) – One thing critical to addressing the current influx of unaccompanied minors along the U.S.-Mexico border: lots and lots of lawyers. That was Vice President Joe Biden's call to the legal services community on Wednesday.

"We need lawyers. We need trained lawyers to determine whether or not these kids meet the criteria for refugee status," the vice president said at a gathering of representatives from law firms and non-profits at the White House.

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Families in violence-plagued Central American countries are making the “horrible” decision to send kids to the United States, Biden said, saying the legal community needed to step up its presence in immigration courts determining which kids can stay and which must be sent back.

“It’s hard. It’s going to be really hard. It was hard already. This backlog is going to continue to pile up,” Biden said, noting he thought the “vast majority” of Americans believed something needed to be done to help the migrant children, who began flooding the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this summer.

Biden said that providing legal representation to kids was essential in upholding the United States’ reputation.

“I hope you’ve overcome the notion that just because we can’t do them all we shouldn’t do anything,” he told the group of lawyers. “You know, you take care of one of these kids, you’ll get greater satisfaction than you have from winning a case for a major corporate client.”

Biden's plea is part of a larger series of actions on the part of the administration to address the growing crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. The number of minors from Central American countries- with the overwhelming majority hailing from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala- crossing the border has surged in 2014. Since the beginning of the year, 62,000 children have arrived in the United States illegally, though the rate has slowed in recent weeks.

Federal law dictates that minors from countries that are not contiguous to the United States (i.e. not from Mexico or Canada) cannot be immediately sent back to their home countries, they must have a court hearing. So, enter the lawyers.

“I wish I had a more perfect solution for you,” Biden said. “This is just hard stuff.”

In June, Biden visited Guatemala, one of the countries of origin for the wave of migrant children, to announce greater U.S. efforts in stemming gang-related violence. Children are also arriving from El Salvador and Honduras.

The surge prompted a heated debate over what to do with the children, leading to angry protests and accusations the White House wasn’t doing enough to secure the border. President Barack Obama requested nearly $4 billion from Congress to accommodate the migrants and help process them through immigration courts, though lawmakers weren’t able to come to an agreement on a final measure before they left for a five week summer vacation.

“What we’re trying to figure out – and it’s hard – is how we can use the multiple assets, absent Congressional support and the real money we need, to do the kinds of things we need,” Biden said. “Because they’ve left town. And they left town a long time ago, figuratively speaking, in actually engaging on this.”

Filed under: Immigration • Joe Biden
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. A. L. Luttrell

    Reblogged this on Arlin Report and commented:
    Lawyers? Seriously........who are they sending their invoices to for their "consulting fees"? Just what are they going to do......defend each immigrant that goes before a court? I know.....questions.

    August 6, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. smith

    How about repealing the law that allows minors (except from Can. and Mex.) to just stroll into the US. What about cutting all business and funding to Mexico, without Mexico`s help these kids wouldn`t be at our border wanting in.

    August 6, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. susan

    Biden and obama = dumb and dummer.

    August 6, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. John

    Trivia question
    Does congress move toward issue resolutions more when they are in session or when they are on a 5 week vacation?

    Doesn't nothing in either place...........

    August 6, 2014 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. ROB

    He's right. We need lawyers to speed up the deportation of these criminals and lawyers to help put Biden and Obama in jail for allowing them to come

    August 6, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Just what are they going to do......defend each immigrant that goes before a court?

    To the extent necessary, yes. It's called due process....and it's a fundamental, core value of our howl about it and paint yourself as un-American all you want.

    August 6, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Chris..E.Al

    Biden is the reason and the cause of this crisis not W read up and research what you have never heard and seen on the msm .

    August 6, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. kev

    Sure, one lawyer per illegal... as long as each lawyer agrees to ADOPT one illegal immigrant child, if lawyers can't afford to help, who can?. Let's see how many takers there are for that deal.

    August 6, 2014 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Hillary Inathong

    Translation: Obama and his Admonistration would rather cater to criminals than deal with concerns of US Citizens.

    August 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Gunderson

    No you don't! All you need is transportation and a compass! The people sure as hell don't need to be billed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    August 6, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  11. J Anthony

    Here we go again. No one addresses root-causes. I stress this because it's so lacking in the media. If you want to make it just about securing the border,great, but it's going to cost a hell of a lot to do it right. But the wingnuts just want it done, they don't want to pay for it,, and the reasons are political. Law enforcement and related hardware are their favorite areas of spending, you can bet that if a Repub was in the WH right now, they'd be spending however many billions it took to do whatever.

    August 6, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. mdl

    I bet Bush and Obama drink beers together.

    August 6, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  13. Clay

    The way to solve the border crisis is to send them back to their families. Why is that so hard. We have children in foster care that need help and they are spending our tax money on illegal aliens from another country. Feed them clothed them and transport them back to their countries. We have our own problems to solve. Send them home. I don't feel sorry for those law breakers. There are people waiting legally to enter the country and these criminals just steal across the border. Send those criminals home.

    August 7, 2014 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. Mr. Balls

    Yep, that's exactly what we need, more lawyers.

    August 7, 2014 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  15. G White

    How about repealing all prohibition laws dealing with all recreational drugs starting in 1937 which has funded all drug cartels south of the border which has created this refugee problem of people fleeing violence and failed economies

    August 7, 2014 01:44 am at 1:44 am |