PHOENIX — The flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has become a full-blown crisis that doesn’t appear to be letting up.
But one Arizona representative wants to change all that.
Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, who actually has been tasked with leading a group on the issue, has crafted a new bill that would give U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authority to send unaccompanied immigrant children back to their home country immediately.
Congress passed a human trafficking law in 2008 that allowed CBP to immediately send back children who crossed the border from either Mexico or Canada. The loophole, however, was that kids who cross the border from countries that were non-contiguous with the U.S. would get turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, where they would then get a hearing in three to seven years’ time.
“[The bill] will simply put those countries on the same par and give the same flexibility the CBP has had with Mexico and Canada children all along,” Salmon told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos Tuesday.
Salmon added that President Barack Obama called for this “flexibility” for CBP as recently as June 30, so Salmon hopes Democrats will join Republicans in supporting it.
“If we’re dealing with unaccompanied children from Mexico in this way, how can it be unfair?” he asked. “Mexico and Canada…that’s the way we deal with them currently.”
Salmon said that the longer we wait and the more we offer hope of amnesty, more and more kids will die.
“Many of those children are not making it. Many of them are being sold into prostitution, many are killed,” he said. “They estimate that a third of the girls are raped along the way. How is that compassionate? Should we not be offering a deterrent?”
He also offered a strict warning to those who believe they are actually helping the children by helping them cross or by fighting for them to stay.
“The folks out there that think they’re doing a good thing for these children are actually aiding and abetting the cartels by having policies that encourage more of these children to brave that long, treacherous journey and be raped,” he explained. “The more compassionate thing to do would be to send a very clear message that if you get to the United States, it’s not going to be amnesty, you’re going to be sent back to your country, so don’t make that journey in the first place, and a lot of lives will be saved.”