For the past several weeks, there has been talk about Congress agreeing upon legislation that would help to deal with the current humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Since May, there has been a significant increase in undocumented immigrants attempting to come into the United States by way of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In addition, since October of last year, there have been over 50,000 unaccompanied, undocumented children apprehended near the border.
Up until this point, it was thought that Congress would pass a bill that would allow funding to be put towards the situation. However, that bill has now been abandoned. News broke on July 31 that “House Republicans . . . abandoned their own border bill after it became apparent they did not have enough support in their own party to pass the legislation.” The full article, posted on azcentral.com, can be found here.
The proposed amount for the funding was set at $659 million and would have been allocated to agencies that are “charged with handling the influx of immigrant children through Sept. 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year.” The money would also have been put towards streamlining the removal process for the unaccompanied children who have been apprehended by Border Patrol.
Abandoning the bill right before Congress' August recess was unexpected and have left many to wonder about the fate of these children and their status in the U.S. The announcement from GOP leaders that they would “continue to work on solutions,” does not give much comfort to immigration advocates and others who are genuinely concerned for the welfare of these children and other immigrants who have been apprehended at the border.
It seems that the House of Representatives spent only one hour on the proposed legislation until its members moved on to a transportation funding bill. There was no date scheduled to vote on border legislation. Some say that it wouldn't have mattered whether there was a resolution or not, because the bill did not have backing from House Democrats or the Obama administration.
One main issue that Democrats had with the proposed bill was that it would make drastic changes to a 20082008 law, signed by President George W. Bush, that currently requires immigrant children from countries other than Mexico and Canada to have an immigration hearing. Undocumented immigrant children from Mexico and Canada can be almost immediately deported.
There are those who have expressed practical concerns about Congress not passing the bill before August 1. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) “will run out of money before the end of September without Congress authorizing supplemental funding.” In addition, the lack of funding slows down the “immigration hearing and deportation process,” he said.
If you have questions related to your immigration status or are facing other legal matters, do not hesitate to contact my office. We can meet for an initial consultation in order to discuss the facts of your case and advise you on your options.