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What Congress Can Do To Help with the Central American Migrant Crisis
Last Friday the Obama Administration took a series of smart and sure footed steps designed to bring an end to the Central American migrant crisis we are now experiencing on our Southern Border. While we all welcome Congress’s attention to the issue this week, the discussions should be focusing on what Congress can and should be doing to support the Administration’s aggressive actions to date. I offer up four things in particular Congress can do to help bring this crisis to a more rapid close:
- Allocate necessary resources to ensure safe temporary detention facilities, expedited adjudication for unaccompanied minors and sufficient legal representation for those requiring it. Other measures which will hasten adjudication or give temporary authority to the President should be considered.
- Publically support the Administration’s short and long term efforts in Central America designed to prevent reoccurrences of this recent surge. Should include short term measures to ensure repatriation is both rapid and humane, and longer term efforts to bring more economic opportunity, citizen security and rule of law to the region. A whole of government approach to combating the growing regional influence of trans-national organized crime should be developed and implemented.
- The House should pass something akin to the Senate Immigration Reform bill in the next few weeks. There is no doubt at this point that confusion about our immigration system has played a role in the recent surge. The single most effective way our government has of clearing up this confusion is by passing immigration reform swiftly so it can be enacted by the end of this year. The rules of the road will be clear as day at point, ensuring that all in Central America understand that no migrants arriving here after Dec 31st, 2011 will eligible for legalization.
- Speak with one voice. Again, by Congress passing a plan like the one outlined here and showing their support for the Administration, the United States government will be sending a loud and clear signal to those South of us that the US is determined to bring a swift and humane end to the crisis. This unaminity will itself be a powerful deterrent, and help us bring an immediate slowing of the northbound flow.
This week the House Republicans have spent far more energy beating up on the Administration about this crisis than acting as a responsible partner in bring the crisis to a close. In the coming weeks they and all of Congress will have an opportunity to do their part in bringing this unfortunate chapter in our immigration system to a close. The Administration has taken smart and aggressive first steps. They have done their part. It is now time for Congress to do its part. Failure to act will prolong the crisis, worsen human suffering and strengthen the cartels south of the border prospering from the enlarged flow.
For more information on the migrant crisis, please look at the new "backgrounder" we at NDN have put together. In particular, Greg Sargent has a great piece outlining how Congress can approach this issue.