Conservatives Wary of Dueling Border Bills

By:  Jack Kenny
Conservatives Wary of Dueling Border Bills

The House Republicans' border bill has come under fire—from Republicans.

"That the House leaders' border package includes no language on executive actions is surrender to a lawless President," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) declared in a statement issued Tuesday. "And it is a submission to the subordination of congressional power."

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill, backed by the Republican leadership, to spend $659 million to address the crisis on the Texas border, where more than 50,000 illegal immigrant children have been detained over the past several months. The bill, while well short of both the $3.7 billion President Obama has requested and the $2.7 billion the Senate is expected to authorize, includes funding for increased Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs enforcement, temporary housing, and $40 million in foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the countries of origin for most of the migrant minors. There is also $22 million for more judges to speed up the hearings the law requires before the immigrants can be returned home.

Democrats and some Republicans say the stopgap measure for the next two months is simply not enough. 

"We're probably going to have to deal with this again," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told Time magazine. "It's obvious we're trying to get this thing through."

"Certainly it won't have enough money to get the job done, but a lot depends on the substantive language," said Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate's second-ranking Democrat. Durbin said he would not support a provision in the bill that would change the due process guarantees a 2008 law provides for immigrant children from noncontiguous countries, meaning anywhere besides Canada and Mexico.

That is one of the sticking points in the bill. While the Obama administration has expressed support for the change, many Democrats in Congress are opposed and have criticized the Republican bill for too little funding for lawyers to assist the immigrant children at deportation hearings.

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