Sen. Mike Johanns has backed legislation to resolve the crisis which has allowed an estimated 57,000 children to cross the southern border illegally.
Johanns co-sponsors a bill that would tweak the 2008 law on illegal immigrant children, create a swifter immigration process for the children, and add 40 immigration judges.
“In Nebraska, immigration court dates are being set more than two years out, 800-and-some days out, with 5,000 undocumented immigrants awaiting a hearing, not even counting what we’re dealing with here,” Johanns says.
The senator refers to the 200 children the federal Department of Health and Human Services has placed in Nebraska.
Johanns blames President Barack Obama in large part for the problem. Johanns says the president’s promise during the 2012 campaign that minors illegally brought into the country will not be deported has been exploited by unsavory people in Central America.
The so-called coyotes have spread the word through the region that children making it to America will not be turned away or sent back, according to Johanns. They have shaken down families, according to the senator, with the promise of a better life for the children only to take them on what Johanns calls the “trip from Hell.”
The legislation would amend the 2008 law on unaccompanied minor children from Central America, would speed up the immigration process for the minors, would add 40 immigration judges to handle the backlog of immigration cases, would secure high-traffic areas of the border, and would authorize governors to send National Guard troops to the border.
Johanns gives President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to address the problem no chance of passing.
“I think the administration has got to reach out and start working with people, because I don’t believe their original request is going to go anywhere. I just don’t think it’s going to be funded.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]