CONGRESSMAN SANFORD BISHOP CALLS FOR A COMPASSIONATE AND COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION FOR THE SOUTHWEST BORDER’S HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) called for a compassionate and comprehensive solution to the humanitarian crisis on the Southwest border after voting against H.R. 5230, a partisan measure presented by the House Majority party to address the flow of immigrant children crossing into the United States. Congressman Bishop also voted against H.R. 5272, a bill designed to restrict the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and deport current immigrants known as ‘DREAMers’. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 52,193 unaccompanied children have been apprehended at the southwest border between October 1, 2013, and June 15, 2014, citing violence, abuse, crime, gang threats, and insecurity as a prime motivation for migrating. The largest number of children (29%) came from Honduras, followed by Guatemala (24%), Mexico (23%), and El Salvador (22%).
“Many cite fear as the reason we must militarize our borders, cut down safeguards in our immigration processing procedures, and indiscriminately ship the children of terrorized families back across the border,” said Congressman Bishop. “Well, I am not afraid of upholding the standard of neighborly kindness which our forefathers set for our great nation while safely securing our borders against those who would do harm. But, I am afraid of sending a ruthless illustration to the world of how America treats the ‘tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free’, destroying the enduring vision of hope the world perceives in the United States of America.
H.R. 5230 would spend $694 million in emergency funding through September 30, 2014. But, it would fail to adequately fund overburdened immigration courts and address the root causes of migration from the Central American countries. Instead it directs funding to expand the inhumane practice of family detention and the wasteful and unnecessary involvement of the National Guard.
“It is written in Luke 10:25-37 to ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’” continued Congressman Bishop. “Rather than protecting vulnerable children who have already endured unspeakable hardship, H.R. 5230 puts immigrant children at risk of further harm by speeding up their removal process and sending them straight back into the clutches of human traffickers, abusive gangs, and drug lord kingpins.”
The bill expands funding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for increased detention space, transportation costs, overtime costs, expedited migrant processing, and additional deportation and enforcement personnel, but does not do enough to ensure the health and welfare of the children detained. It also strips the usual human rights conditions and certification requirements placed on the Guatemalan and Honduran militaries with regard to giving financial assistance through the State Department to Central American governments to reintegrate the deported children found ineligible for asylum, among other measures.
“Additionally, the draconian measures within H.R. 5230 roll back due process of law, weaken protections against child labor and sex trafficking, and misplace vital resources necessary to be used at the border. Also, by voting to curtail DACA, the Majority Party in Congress is dragging us further and further away from necessary and common-sense immigration reform. I call for regular order and the pursuit of, not just a short-term, but a long-term, compassionate, and comprehensive solution to the crisis at our Southwest border,” concluded Congressman Bishop.
Congressman Bishop has supported H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a bill to protect the United States against would-be terrorists, secure our borders, and address the 11.5 million undocumented individuals who are now in the United States illegally. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the companion Senate bill, passed last summer, would reduce the federal deficit by $135 billion over the next ten-year period.
Republicans in Congress wrongly blame the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) for the recent influx of immigrant children into the United States, when in reality a majority of the children were motivated to migrate because they suffered or faced some type of harm in their homes or community. DACA provides temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to over 500,000 ‘DREAMers’ who were brought to the United States as children, many of whom know no other country but the United States as home. These individuals include talented students, hard-working high school graduates, and veterans who pose no threat to public safety. Going after these individuals would consume much-needed resources needed by law enforcement to target those who would do America harm.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5230 by a party-line vote of 223 to 189; H.R 5272 by a vote of 216 to 192. Neither is expected to pass the U.S. Senate. Congressman Bishop voted against both measures.