A working group appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to study the border crisis has arrived at its slate of recommendations.
Boehner named Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) to lead the group on June 24, and she said last week that the group was making “extraordinary progress in a short amount of time to understand the facts of the situation at the border, and develop sensible, humane, but tough recommendations on a course of action for Congress and the president to act on immediately.”
Granger along with Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) visited the Texas-Mexico border twice and flew to Central America to meet with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala.
Their recommendations are:
· Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.
· Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.
· Require a DHS strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.
· Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.
· Establish border security in Central American countries and Mexico.
· Establish repatriation centers in originating countries in order to facilitate the return of family units and unaccompanied minors.
· Deploy aggressive messaging campaigns in originating countries and the U.S. to dispel immigration myths, clarify that individuals will be deported on arrival and advise on the dangers and legal penalties of traveling through Mexico to enter the United States illegally.
· Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border with the ultimate goal of processing family units 5-7 days. Congress must continue stringent oversight to ensure this mandate is being met.
· Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans and Canadians for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials.
· Deploy additional judge teams and temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims. Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system. Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing for those with legitimate claims. The standard under current law that allows an alien to show a “credible fear of persecution” needs to be examined and addressed to ensure a fraud-free system moving forward. In addition, criminal aliens and criminal gang members should not receive asylum.
· Establish tough penalties for those engaged in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors by strengthening penalties for human smugglers and those who assist them.
· Increase law enforcement operations domestically and in originating countries to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and encourage originating countries to pass strict laws against human smuggling.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said he expected the House to “take up these recommendations so that we can quickly send them to the Senate for a vote and to the president for implementation.”
“I expect that whatever proposal we pass will remain fiscally responsible and not add to our deficit,” Salmon added.