With Senate Gone, House Still Battles Over Border Bill

By:  Jack Kenny
08/04/2014
       
With Senate Gone, House Still Battles Over Border Bill

House Democrats attempted to bring back the Senate-passed bipartisan immigration reform bill for consideration Friday after Republicans deadlocked on a bill to address the current border crisis and the Senate had adjourned for its summer recess.

The House remained in session after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called representatives back Thursday afternoon.

"The Senate is gone. What we do today will be useless," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, protesting the speaker's decision. Nonetheless a long line of House Democrats took turns at the microphone to request that "HR 115, a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill" be brought up to address the "humanitarian crisis at the border." Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who had the floor at the time, refused to yield to the request. President Obama and congressional Democrats have repeatedly called on the Republican-controlled House to act on the bill, passed by the Senate more than a year ago, to permit the granting of legal status and a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally. That measure, Cole said, would have no effect on the current crisis on the Texas border, where an estimated 57,000 immigrants have crossed illegally since last October.   

"Frankly what has happened there would be illegal if we passed what the Senate passed," Cole said earlier in the House debate over a Republican bill to spend $659 million for both humanitarian aid and increased security measures in response to the border crisis. President Obama has requested $3.7 billion and the Senate failed to pass its $2.7-billion bill before going home on Thursday. Along with the huge difference in dollar amounts, Democrats also criticized the Republican bill for its provision for expedited hearings for the immigrants. A federal law to protect children from human traffickers guarantees a due process hearing for immigrants from countries other than Mexico or Canada. House Democrats argue the expedited hearings would strip due process rights from the immigrants, many of whom are children who have fled murderous drug gangs, rapists, and human traffickers in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The Republican bill would "return these children to their death," Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) charged.

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