House passes thoughtful response
The situation on our southern border is a humanitarian crisis.
Solving it requires us to work together on a responsible response that secures the border, stems the tide of illegal immigration and returns the children safely to their homes.
This border crisis is one of President Obama’s own making. His failure to enforce the law and secure the border have encouraged tens of thousands of children to undertake a dangerous and at times deadly journey to the United States.
Many of these children come from Central American cities like Guatemala City, San Salvador and San Pedro Sula.
Children travel upwards of 1,300 miles from these cities to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and California.
On the way they are exposed to human and sex traffickers, exposure to the elements, health risks, and other dangers.
That is not fair to these children, and this is just the latest example of the president’s lack of regard for the rule of law and how it has real consequences for people.
The House has offered a responsible solution to help address the current crisis.
The legislation my colleagues and I approved on Aug. 1 reprioritizes resources to secure the border, provide humanitarian assistance and emergency care, return children to their countries of origin, and discourage others from attempting to make the dangerous journey.
It provides funding for additional temporary judges to assist with the additional caseload and expedite judicial proceedings.
The children should be returned to their home countries expeditiously, but they should be treated with respect and compassion while they are in the U.S.
The legislation approved by the House ensures that the children receive temporary housing and emergency care. It also redirects an additional $70 million to provide border state governors with the financial resources and flexibility to deploy the National Guard to help provide humanitarian assistance.
Deploying the National Guard will free up customs and border protection to focus on its core mission.
The legislation also provides the Department of Homeland Security with an additional $405 million for border security and enforcement, including supplemental funding for U.S. immigration and customs enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The House passed other reforms to help Customs and Border Protection do its job. Currently the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service control around eight hundred miles, or around 40 percent, of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 20.7 million acres of borderlands they control is equivalent to three-quarters of Pennsylvania.
Customs and border protection officers are not able to patrol much of this area because of regulations in place to protect land and wildlife.
The legislation we passed includes common-sense reforms that provide customs and border protection with the ability to use motorized vehicles, build roads and other necessary infrastructure, and install surveillance technology on federally owned land in order to improve border security.
The legislation we passed is not a blank check for Obama.
It is a carefully crafted response to the chaos that the president has allowed to develop on the border and in these children’s lives.
To address the current crisis, the Senate and president should approve this legislation immediately. To prevent future crises, the president should enforce the law and secure the border.
Rothfus is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.