Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez slammed Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-TX) bipartisan effort to more quickly deal with unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors from Central America.
“Senator Cornyn has led the opposition to every single immigration reform proposal he has ever seen, and he is exploiting children, wrapping himself in a thin blanket of feigned compassion, and he has gotten a Democrat to stand with him,” the Illinois Democrat said Tuesday in a statement. “This is not the middle ground, this is the deportation-only agenda dressed up in sheep’s clothing. More of the same is not a solution.”
Gutiérrez has been one of the left’s most vocal advocates for immigration reform and reduced deportations. According to him, the United States should be protecting the illegal immigrant minors, not looking for ways to send them back to their home countries.
Since last October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally crossing into the United States through the southern border. The vast majority of the illegal minors are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
“The Congress has an important decision to make, right here, right now: As our nation faces a refugee crisis of desperate children fleeing for their lives, and the Western Hemisphere faces massive displacement of children and families, do we want to create a border with Mexico that rivals the militarization of the border between North and South Korea? Is that our response, to shut out our neighbors and stick our heads in the sand?” he asked.
“Or do we rise to the challenge, as Americans have always done, follow the laws we have in place to sort out legitimate claims for asylum and safeguard against sex-trafficking and respond with leadership, compassion, and solutions that will actually work,” he continued.
Last week, Cuellar received criticism from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for his efforts to lessen the restrictions on repatriating Central American illegal minors.
“Henry Cuellar does not represent the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” CHC Chairman Rubén Hinojosa said, according to Politico. “He’s a Blue Dog, he comes to the meetings once in a long time… Cuellar does not speak for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the many other caucuses who are united with us.”
According to Gutiérrez, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the lawmakers who are trying to send the illegal immigrant minors home are simply reacting to a mob mentality.
“[N]ow we have politicians with a political agenda to spend more tax money on the border using the plight of these children to say this is a border security crisis, this is a crisis of too many rights for undeserving children, and to respond to the mob, not to our values as a nation,” he charged.
Cuellar and Cornyn are expected to introduced their “Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act Tuesday. Their bill would, in part, change the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 to treat all unaccompanied minors equally, allowing for more expedited processing.