Rep. Lipinski Says Misdirected Bill Is Not the Solution to Humanitarian Crisis at Southern Border
On Friday night, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement after voting against a bill that fails to fairly address the crisis of unaccompanied children coming to our southern border:
“We have a crisis at our southern border. Tens of thousands of children from Central America have arrived at the border and are now in a process that could keep them in the United States for years before it is determined who may qualify for asylum. This is not good for the children. The slow process of adjudication encourages more children to make the dangerous journey across Mexico as they are exploited by predators, coyotes, and traffickers. The stories about what is happening to these children during this journey are heartbreaking.
“My vote tonight does not mean that I think that our borders should be open to anyone and everyone who wants entry. Nor does it mean that I think the Obama administration should be given a blank check to spend freely on this issue without solving the underlying problems. Instead, it means that I believe we should address the humanitarian crisis at the border the right way: by instituting a speedy but fair process to help those children who are being abused by human traffickers or who face persecution at home, and by making sure those that do not qualify for asylum return quickly to their homes.
“My heart goes out to children around the world who face terrible poverty. But the United States cannot give asylum to every child in that situation. It would not be sustainable. But we should care for those who are truly in danger. Unfortunately, instead of working together to find a solution to this problem, Washington has turned this crisis into another partisan battle. And House Republicans produced a bill that goes too far.
“This bill will permanently remove basic protections that are in place to help children who are being persecuted for their religion, race, or gender and are truly in need of our help. Under this bill, children will receive less careful screening to find out if they have been abused or are being trafficked, and it also removes the discretion of Border Patrol agents to decide whether a child is simply too young to make the profound decision of being deported or choosing to return home. Moreover, while the crisis involves Central American children covered by the 2008 William Wilberforce law, changes are also made in the law that applies to Mexican children. This means that children unrelated to this crisis will be put at risk by these short-sighted changes in future years.
“I do believe we need to change the 2008 law. That is why I support H.R. 5114, the HUMANE Act. The HUMANE Act tackles this issue the way it needs to be addressed. It would have fixed the broken process in place and provided for screenings at multiple levels to make sure that abused and trafficked children would not be lost amidst the thousands of children at the border that need to be returned home. It also addressed the issue of returning home those children who have already been released and placed with sponsors pending an immigration proceeding. It’s a comprehensive solution like this that will help fix this crisis; but unfortunately, the House took a partisan path that will lead to nowhere.
"Following approval of the House Republicans’ border bill tonight, they approved a related piece of legislation, H.R. 5272, designed to keep the President from taking executive action on deportations. While I do not support further unilateral action by the President on immigration, this bill was too vague to support. So to signal my position on this issue, I voted present. Ultimately, immigration reform should be done by Congress in way that first strengthens border security, enforces immigration laws on employers, and closes loopholes in immigration law."
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