Arizona Senators To Introduce Legislation To Address Child Migrant Crisis

By Jude Joffe-Block
July 10, 2014

PHOENIX — Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake will be introducing legislation to address the tens of thousands of children arriving at the United States-Mexico border.

McCain will hold a press conference in Phoenix to discuss the proposal on Friday.

The legislation is intended to deter immigrants, including children, from coming illegally from Central America to the U.S.

“This crisis will continue until the parents who paid thousands of dollars to smuggle their children north to the United States see plane-loads of them landing back at home — their money wasted,” McCain said in a statement on Thursday.

Their bill would change a 2008 law so the U.S. could deport arriving Central American unaccompanied minors more quickly, sometimes without seeing an immigration judge.

The Obama administration has also pushed that idea. But its been criticized by some Democrats and advocates who fear it would deprive children of due process.

Flake and McCain acknowledge some of those coming are fleeing persecution.

They propose making 5,000 additional refugee visas available in each of the three countries sending the most child migrants: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

That would allow more people to apply for asylum from their home countries rather than applying only after they make the perilous journey across multiple borders to the United States.

“We do it in those countries, and that is far better,” Flake said in an interview with KJZZ. “That is far more humane than having the children subjected to the smugglers and cartels as they head North.”  

The legislation would also require those awaiting immigration court hearings to be detained or monitored to ensure they appear in court. It would also make foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras contingent on those countries taking steps to stem the flow of children out of the country.