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Possible compromise emerges on border request


WASHINGTON (AP) - Outlines of a possible compromise that would more quickly deport minors arriving from Central America emerged Thursday as part of President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency request to address the immigration crisis on the southern border.

Republicans demanded speedier deportations, which the White House initially had supported but left out of its proposal after complaints from immigrant advocates and some Democrats. The top House and Senate Democrats pointedly left the door open to them.

"It's not a deal-breaker," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Let them have their face-saver. But let us have the resources to do what we have to do."

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: "I'm not going to block anything. Let's see what comes to the floor."

Reid and Pelosi made their comments as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both said they didn't want to give Obama a "blank check" to deal with the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at the Texas border, many fleeing gang violence and drawn by rumors they would be able to stay in the U.S. Boehner and McConnell indicated policy changes would be necessary to win their support.

"We want to make sure we actually get the right tools to help fix the problem," McConnell said. Obama "needs to work with us to get the right policy into effect."

The developments came as Obama's Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, defended the emergency spending request at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said in written testimony that without the funds, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would run out of money in August and the Homeland Security Department "would need to divert significant funds from other critical programs just to maintain operations."

At issue is a law approved in 2008. Passed to give protection to sex trafficking victims, it requires court hearings for migrant young people who arrive in this country from "noncontiguous" countries - anywhere other than Mexico or Canada.

Because of enormous backlogs in the immigration court system, the result in the current crisis is that kids streaming in from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are released to relatives or others in the U.S. with notices to appear at long-distant court hearings that many of them never will attend.

Republicans want the government to have the authority to treat Central American kids the same way as kids from Mexico, who can be removed quickly unless they convince Border Patrol that they have a fear of return that merits additional screening.

"I think clearly we would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico," Boehner said.

White House officials have said they support such changes and indicated last week that they would be proposing them along with the emergency spending request. But advocates objected strongly, saying kids would be denied legal protections, and now the White House position is less clear.

Asked Thursday about whether the White House would consider proposals to revise the law, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is open to discussions about ways to better enforce it.

"That is to say, how can this law be enforced in a more efficient way?" Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama in Texas. He added that if there are others who have ideas about how to make the process more efficient, "we're certainly open to those discussions."

Advocates said they remained strongly opposed and expressed anger that after comprehensive immigration reform failed to advance in Congress this year, lawmakers may be headed toward a vote on deporting minors more quickly.

"They weren't able to get immigration reform done in this Congress and this is going to be the only piece of immigration that gets done, a bill that says we're going to deport children fleeing violence faster," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "If Democrats can't stand up to this and be the party that's protecting children and refugees, it's a really sad day for the country."

More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have arrived since October even as tens of thousands more have arrived traveling as families, mostly mothers with their children.

Many are trying to reunite with family members and to escape a spike in violence in their countries, but they also report hearing rumors that once here, they would be allowed to stay. Republicans blame Obama policies aimed at curbing deportations of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children for contributing to those rumors, something Obama administration officials have largely rejected.

The situation has complicated the already rancorous debate over remaking the nation's immigration laws at a moment when Obama has declared legislative efforts to do so dead and announced plans to proceed on his own executive authority to change the flawed system where he can.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
deedeeace July 10 2014 at 4:26 PM

Why compromise on border security? A country that cannot and has not secured its borders is not a soverign nation, it is a nation that has been invaded, setteled, colonized and conquered.

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28 replies
for.good.or.evil July 10 2014 at 5:05 PM

Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Said,
"Let them have their face-saver".
This woman
is the face of pure whack-job
Liberal ideas and vile deviancy.
Then there is her partner in the Prince of Darkness regime.
Harry Reid, said:
"I'm not going to block anything"..!
Holy Crap..!
Reid has been an iron-curtain
12-feet thick road-block of all republican offers and ideas...!
It is very hard to believe
that dirty Harry would "allow"
any Republican proposals
to move forward..!
It is truly amazing
that a more unholy team
of anti-Americans could ever hold
our country in a bigger more incompetent infernal of fire
better than this team of
Barack Obama,
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid.
Can you imagine for even a moment
having to "work" with this
Obama regime from HELL..?..!

Flag Reply +103 rate up
22 replies
kjmooney17 July 10 2014 at 4:38 PM

Why bother having laws when they are subject to compromise. Once again the politicians on both sides of the aisle have failed to hear what the American public wants. I am sick and tired of my tax dollars being used in a pissing contest between a bunch of inept public servants.

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16 replies
CoolRep July 10 2014 at 4:29 PM

Anytime Mentally ill Pelosi is involved, you know it is bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Her and Reid are insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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19 replies
Charlie July 10 2014 at 4:29 PM

The liberals just want the money..making it a federal program that all immigrants can enjoy...liberals also want amnesty to eventually stock the ranks of the democratic socialist party...screw the 3.7 billion...can't take care of our own homeless people..yet they give it away on illegals...disgraceful

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36 replies
mason10436 July 10 2014 at 4:32 PM

Seal the Border First. Then & only then, approve the money! <--------

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29 replies
daveliq July 10 2014 at 4:29 PM

Just Say No To Obamma

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17 replies
raretoy July 10 2014 at 4:30 PM

WHY are we spending 3.7 BILLION in NEW deficit spending just to take care of treaspassing illegals???? Wouldn;t that money build a wall, pay for our OWN homeless or pay for our own children living in poverty. If I was an american homeless person right now I would be appauled

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26 replies
wizardsking July 10 2014 at 4:30 PM

The only reason the Dems are even making any consideration in this matter, is they now realize, Obama is looking like a non-leader...............AGAIN

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9 replies
ganderrrr July 10 2014 at 4:27 PM

"Compromise"? You mean the moderate Republicans are again winning and the tea partiers losing?

Works for me:)

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10 replies
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