WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sending Vice President Joe Biden to Central America to discourage illegal immigration to the United States is a welcome step, but President Obama needs to do more to confront the flood of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children flooding the border, according to Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
“The president needs to take a firm step to deal with it; so far he’s done nothing other than sending Vice President Biden to Central America,” Cornyn told reporters Tuesday. “But I hope he convenes… a meeting after the plan on Iraq to talk about this humanitarian crisis that just keeps growing and growing.”
Biden is scheduled to visit Guatemala — a country of origin for many of of the unaccompanied minors crossing the border — Friday to address the dangers of the trek northward and to stress that the new arrivals are not eligible for protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or citizenship under current legislation.
The administration estimates that about 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained crossing the border so far this year, up more than 92 percent over the same period last year.
According to Cornyn, the run on the border is “directly as a result of the failure of the administration to clearly set out that it will enforce our immigration laws as they are currently written.”
“It’s still illegal for them to enter the country, but we’re learning on an almost regular basis that adults that come with children are given a notice to appear 90 days hence for a court proceeding and very few of them show back up and essentially melt into the American landscape,” he said. “So the impression is that America is not going to enforce its laws.”
Overall, he said, the failures have created a “humanitarian crisis” that is beginning to reach past border states.
“This is creating a humanitarian crisis that has spread beyond the border regions, beyond places like Oklahoma, California, Arizona, and now Maryland and Virginia are being asked to accommodate these children, these minors while they are being processed,” he said. “It’s overwhelming our ability to deal with this.”