Lawmakers disagree over holding centers for undocumented
Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 01:58
The U.S. government is opening new holding centers to house illegal immigrants but lawmakers can't agree how to treat the thousands of undocumented children being held there. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Inside this federal holding center for illegal migrants, the toys make it almost inviting.
The new facility in Artesia, New Mexico houses some 400 Central American women and children.
A temporary home until their immigration status is determined.
But Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, touring the facility Friday, sent a clear message:
Do not make yourself too comfortable.
SOUNDBITE: DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON SAYING:
"If you come to this country illegally into the Rio Grande Valley sector, we intend to send you back."
The federal government is scrambling to open more holding centers to house a surge in illegal migrants crossing the border, including at least 50,000 minors.
Those who don't receive a bed at centers like this one are released into the public to await deportation or an asylum hearing.
Arizona Senator John McCain, speaking on Friday, said the migrants are exploiting legal loops holes meant to tackle human trafficking.
He wants to change a 2008 law under President Bush that gives many of the illegal minors some legal protection in the face of deportation, like immigration hearings before a judge.
SOUNDBITE: SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) SAYING:
"The only way that this is going to stop is if plane loads of children arrive back in the countries in Central America that they came from and their parents see that three, four, five, six, seven thousand that they have paid to the human traffickers is wasted."
But members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they won't stand for legislation that undermines the rights of the children.
SOUNDBITE: REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL) TEARING UP AND SAYING:
"They are different, they are unique, I cannot understand what is not unique about these children today. I just don't get it. So leave the children alone."
President Obama wants nearly 4 billion dollars from Congress to open more of these facilities.
But how much money is released - and when - depends on Republicans who blame Obama's policies for the influx in the first place.
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