Democratic lawmakers propose lawyers for immigrant children

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:26pm EDT

New York Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries speaks during a news conference prior to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's announcement in Albany, New York June 4, 2012.  REUTERS/Hans Pennink

New York Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries speaks during a news conference prior to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's announcement in Albany, New York June 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Hans Pennink

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. lawmakers announced legislation on Monday that would provide lawyers for thousands of undocumented minors streaming across the border into the United States, saying forcing children to face deportation proceedings alone goes against fundamental American values.

"It is a fantasy to believe that they have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel," New York U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries told a news conference.

Jeffries and the other House of Representatives Democrats introducing the bill said as many as 40 to 50 percent of the undocumented children would have legitimate claims to remain in the United States under current law, citing studies by the United Nations and other agencies.

They also said their bill could save some $2 billion a year because timely immigration proceedings would eliminate the need to house thousands of children for months at a time.

From October to June 15, 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived on the U.S. border with Mexico, according to the Obama administration. Most are fleeing gang and drug violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

A similar provision to provide legal counsel for children and mentally impaired immigrants was included in a comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate last year. But the measure has stalled in the House, where Republicans hold a majority of seats.

There was no immediate indication that the new bill would make any more progress, given deep partisan divisions on the immigration issue in the United States.

Many Republicans blame the influx of undocumented children on Democratic President Barack Obama's 2012 decision to give temporary relief from deportation to some young people brought illegally to the United States by their parents.

"(These parents) have been led to believe that all their child has to do is get to America and they will receive amnesty," Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said on Monday after touring a facility at Lackland Air Force Base to house unaccompanied minors, exposing children to "unspeakable horrors" as they travel through Mexico to the United States.

"The way to act to prevent that is to enforce our laws and stop engaging in the lawlessness that has so characterized the Obama administration," Cruz said.

The White House announced a plan on Friday to address the growing crisis that focused on expanding the government's ability to process and deport the children, with new funding to boost security in their home countries.

Democrats at the news conference on Monday said they considered Obama's plan just a first step.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in San Antonio; Editing by Caren Bohan and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (15)
moonhill wrote:
I have a better idea. Don’t let them in in the first place. This is insane!

Jun 23, 2014 4:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
These kids are looking for work. China is booming. We send empty boats back to China every day.

Why resort to social engineering when ACTUAL engineering will suffice? Give the kids some graham crackers and put them safely on the empty freight ships to China.

Jun 23, 2014 4:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:

Democratic U.S. lawmakers announced legislation on Monday that would provide lawyers for thousands of undocumented minors streaming across the border into the United States, saying forcing children to face deportation proceedings alone goes against fundamental American values.

“It is a fantasy to believe that they have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel,” New York U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries told a news conference.

Jeffries and the other House of Representatives Democrats introducing the bill said as many as 40 to 50 percent of the undocumented children would have legitimate claims to remain in the United States under current law, citing studies by the United Nations and other agencies.”

Obama creates laws to allow amnesty to children brought into the country illegally. Thousands of children flood the borders seeking amnesty. Democrats call this a humanitarian crisis. They then decide to give the illegals lawyers and predict at least 50% can claim amnesty given the current laws.

Do any of you Democrats have a bit of logic and understanding? Ever hear of cause and effect? Giving them all lawyers and granting this first few waves of children amnesty is going to result in even more children being sent across the border.

Jun 23, 2014 5:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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