As the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing into the United States is soaring during recent months, law makers are pushing for changes in the legislation to allow faster deportations. A number of bills have been proposed by US Senators to amend a 2008 law to treat children from countries which do not share border with United States to be treated same as children from Canada and Mexico. The propoals also ask for more resources for immigration hearings.
The 2008 law provides the undocumented immigrant children from countries which do not share border with United States an opportunity to appear for immigration hearings before they could be deported back to their country of origin. The Senators, however, want this to be changed.
Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake lodged a legislation on Thursday to amend the 2008 law so unaccompanied minors from non-contiguous countries could be deported faster by treating them same as children from contiguous countries such as Mexico or Canada.
Representative Matt Salmon from Arizona introduced the Expedited Family Reunification Act earlier this month, which would give the Border Patrol officials the power to treat all unaccompanied immigrant children the way they now treat children from Canada and Mexico.
Democrat Representative Henry Cuellar and Republican Senator John Cornyn have also introduced a bipartisan bill that asks for expedited immigration hearings for children seeking refugee protection or who are victims of human trafficking.
Matt Salmon said in a statement, “I think the first step to fix it is to give our (Customs and Border Protection) guys the authority to immediately repatriate them back to their countries.”
Both the Cornyn-Cuellar and McCain-Flake bills would provide more Immigration Court resources. Currently the nationwide Immigration Court backlog is over 375,000 cases. According to the most recent figures compiled by Syracuse University, which also compiles Immigration Court data, immigrants had to wait an average of 587 days before they have the chance to see an immigration judge.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to grant $3.7 billions to handle the immigration crisis due to the arrivals of undocumented unaccompanied minors. Some of the requested funding will go towards reinforcing the presence of the judges and officials in the border areas to expedite the removal of the undocumented minors back to the countries of their nationalities.