Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern argued Wednesday that once unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors are turned over to their family members in the United States, they are no longer a burden on the United States.
“You talk about the costs of these children, if they are reunited with their families here in the United States, there is not a cost, so,” McGovern said at a House Rules Committee hearing on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill dealing with the border crisis.
Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger — who heads House Speaker John Boehner’s border working group — protested McGovern’s assertion.
“I’m sorry, that’s just not right. Of course there’s a cost. There’s a huge cost,” she said.
“If you’re saying we’re not trying to unite them with their families — who are also here illegally, in most cases — and so yes, there is a cost, and one of the reasons to speed this up is it is taking a year and a half and five years for these cases to come before a judge, in the situation we’ve got now. And during that time, we’re going to pay for their support where they are,” Granger explained.
McGovern said that, while most are for expediting the process, they are not for “stripping away people’s rights,” and he further argued that the proposal should go through the committees with jurisdiction over the issues with which the measure deals.
“A fair hearing doesn’t have to mean a five year hearing,” she responded.
The Congressional Budget Office reported Wednesday that a portion of the supplemental appropriations legislation would allow some of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors to voluntarily leave — thereby reducing the cost of means-tested benefits.
“Among other changes, such children would now have the option to voluntarily depart the United States without appearing before an immigration judge. CBO considers it likely that enacting Division B would reduce the number of children present in the United States receiving means-tested federal benefits, thereby reducing direct spending for such benefits. However, CBO cannot estimate the potential reduction in direct spending at this time,” the CBO report read.
Both Granger and McGovern agreed that the journey of the more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have been detained illegally entering the United States since October is “awful.”
The vast majority of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors are from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.