SARA BERTSCH: Action needs to be taken regarding the border crisis

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Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a list, which stated the total number of children crossing the southern border illegally and to which states they were sent. This state-by-state list confirmed that 21 unaccompanied minors have been placed in South Dakota.

The border situation continues to worsen as the days go on. Each day an average of 150 unaccompanied children are crossing the United States and Mexico border. So far, more than 52,000 children have entered the USA since October.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree the issue needs to be resolved and there is a sense of urgency; however, there continues to be ever-present disagreements. President Obama has come up with his own solution so far. In a letter to John Boehner, the House Speaker, Obama asks Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the border crisis.

Where would all of this money be going? According to the Argus Leader, $1.8 million is going to the Department of Health and Human Services. $1.1 billion will go to the Department of Homeland Security for immigrant and custom enforcement. The department of Homeland Security will receive $433 million for customs and border protection. In addition, $300 million will be given to the State Department and other international programs. Finally, he request 64 million go to the Department of Justice.

GOP leaders have just released their own resolution that argues the president’s executive actions regarding the border. They argue that the president “has the necessary tools at his disposal to solve the humanitarian crisis at the border with existing funding from Congress.”

The resolution asks that the President take several steps to quicken the process of illegal immigrants and take action. It would give border agents access to all federal lands, restoring agreements with local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, and raising the standard that allows immigrants to argue their disposition.

The GOP also wants the president to clearly state to those seeking entrance to the United States that they will return to their home countries if they do not follow the legal process.

Another disagreement between the Democrats and Republicans is changing a 2008 law which ensures hearings for unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada. This law has become one of the main fights as congress deliberates Obama’s request of nearly $4 billion.

This law requires that any unaccompanied children crossing the border are transferred into the Department of Health and Human Services’ custody. This leads to the next step where they find a shelter temporarily for the children. They will stay in this shelter until authorities can find family or a foster home to take the children. This process takes a long time and with the overflowing amounts of children, it’s taking even longer. The shelters are over capacity and more strain is being put on the border because of it.

While Congress is arguing, hundreds of unaccompanied children are entering the United States and Border Patrol is struggling with what to do with them. If the situation continues to grow, an estimated 90,000 children will enter our country  by next year.

So far, Texas, New York, Florida and California have housed the most children. This is enough for American citizens to begin asking themselves, when is it enough?

The problem will continue as long as Congress refuses to act. Ed Moore said it best in his column for the Argus Leader.

“We must separate the need for compassion from the need for security — but we cannot abandon either. Our borders must be secure or we run a high risk of catastrophic consequences. We can respond to humanitarian needs but also assure our own people that we are not at risk, nor headed to a permanent welfare state of unending demand,” he said.

Congress needs to step up and make a decision. These children need to be sent back to their countries. Children or not, it is not the United States’ responsibility to deal with more than 52,000 illegal immigrants. We have to consider the welfare of our border patrol agents, everyone living in the states along the border and the country as a whole.

 
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