Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is introducing legislation with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to address the border crisis, a change in course for the powerful Judiciary Committee chairman who had previously focused on the actions President Obama could take under current law to stop the tens of thousands of illegal alien children streaming across the southern U.S. border.
“President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement and administrative legalization programs have encouraged tens of thousands of Central Americans to make the dangerous journey to the United States with the hope of benefiting from the situation,” Goodlatte said in a statement announcing the introduction of H.R. 5137, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act.
“Obama administration officials claim that violence is the root cause of this surge, but an internal Department of Homeland Security memo shows that 95% of those arriving at our border are coming to join up with a family member who is already in the United States illegally,” Goodlatte said. “This crisis is a disaster of President Obama’s own making and threatens both national security and the rule of law.”
Last week, in an op-ed for Breitbart News and in a memo he circulated to House Republicans, Goodlatte said Obama didn’t need any changes to the law or new money to address the border crisis. Though Goodlatte never explicitly stated there shouldn’t be any new legislation, now that House Speaker John Boehner’s working group on the issue–led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)–is imminently rolling out legislation, he and Chaffetz offered their own bill here.
“Although President Obama has many tools at his disposal to stop this surge at the border, he refuses to use them,” Goodlatte said in his statement. “Since President Obama won’t take actions to quell this activity, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act stops many of the Administration’s policies that have caused this crisis, such as exploiting weak asylum standards to approve baseless claims and stringent environmental policies that prevent Border Patrol agents from doing their job of securing the border. Additionally, the bill reforms current law to make sure we get these unaccompanied minors home safely and quickly. We must swiftly take action to end this crisis–children’s lives are at stake, and so is the integrity of our immigration system.”
Many conservatives in the House have openly expressed concern with how fast GOP leadership seems to moving toward pushing sweeping policy changes into law, and what ramifications that could have on the immigration debate as a whole.
“What I hope the House will do is let the Senate act first, and then the House can respond by either accepting the Senate proposal or rejecting it, but not amending it, sending it back to the Senate where you can have a conference committee and all hell could break loose,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told Breitbart News in a phone interview on Thursday.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and a key immigration hawk, has warned every member of Congress against taking quick action that doesn’t address the core problem at hand. “Certainly, DACA and the President’s other numerous unlawful policies must be terminated,” Sessions wrote in a letter hand-delivered to every member of Congress. “But as a first step, Congress must not acquiesce to spending more taxpayer dollars until the President unequivocally rescinds his threat of more illegal executive action.”
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) told Breitbart News he agrees with Sessions “for this reason”:
If we need to change the laws, let’s go ahead and change the law. But this to me is a quid pro quo. The President says, “I’ll sign it if you send me the law. I’ll sign it to change it, but I need $2 billion or $3.7 billion,” but to me, we don’t need to be making deals with quid pro quo. We need to enforce the laws we have on the books right now. We don’t need to come up with more money for it. I don’t care who the President is.
In his interview with Breitbart News, Jones mentioned how Goodlatte previously said the President could use laws already on the books–instead of passing new legislation–to fix the crisis.
“We are a debtor nation,” Jones said, adding:
We continue to spend money we do not have, and here we go again. Whether it’s $1 billion or $3 trillion, we don’t need to come up with this money at this time. The President has the authority. Bob Goodlatte put out information last week to every member of the House that the President could use the laws on the books to start sending these kids back. I’m opposed to this. I agree with Sen. Sessions.
Chaffetz said his and Goodlatte’s bill sends additional resources to the border and makes changes to the asylum process.
“Immediate actions are required to address the recent surge of unaccompanied children and teenagers crossing the border,” Chaffetz said. He continued:
The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act not only deals with the crisis at hand, but implements important policy changes moving forward. By sending additional judges, attorneys, and other resources to the border, we can ensure that these children are processed, reunited with their families, and sent home as swiftly as possible.
“Additionally, this bill makes long needed changes to the asylum process,” Chaffetz stated. “Too many are finding ways to game the system. By strengthening standards for those who claim ‘credible fear,’ we can expedite the removal process. We must deal with this crisis in both a humane and realistic manner. This legislation does both.”