POLITICS

House panel passes bill that would speed deportation of Central American children

  • FILE - In this June 25, 2014 photo shows a group of  immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas. The influx at the border is largely families with children or by minors traveling alone. From October 2012 through the end of September 2013, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended about 24,000 unaccompanied children. But between October and the end of June 2014, the number shot up to 57,000. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified recently that the number is accelerating so fast that it could reach 90,000 by the end of September. Most of them are coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

    FILE - In this June 25, 2014 photo shows a group of immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas. The influx at the border is largely families with children or by minors traveling alone. From October 2012 through the end of September 2013, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended about 24,000 unaccompanied children. But between October and the end of June 2014, the number shot up to 57,000. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified recently that the number is accelerating so fast that it could reach 90,000 by the end of September. Most of them are coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)  (AP)

  • This June 20, 2014 file photo shows the Southwest Key-Neva Esperanza, in Brownsville, Texas, a facility that shelters unaccompanied immigrant children. Overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children, the state of Texas relaxed its standards for the shelters that house them, easing rules governing how much space each child needs and what kind of facilities they should have. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

    This June 20, 2014 file photo shows the Southwest Key-Neva Esperanza, in Brownsville, Texas, a facility that shelters unaccompanied immigrant children. Overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children, the state of Texas relaxed its standards for the shelters that house them, easing rules governing how much space each child needs and what kind of facilities they should have. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

A bill that House Republicans are certain would send a clear message to Central Americans not to send their children to the United States illegally passed a committee on Wednesday.

The Judiciary Committee voted 17-13 to send the bill to the full House for a vote, according to USA Today.

The measure calls for speeding the deportation of unaccompanied children from Central America.
Last year, tens of thousands of children from Central America arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, most through Texas, without a parent.

Other bills being considered by the committee include a measure that would make it harder for refugees to seek asylum in the USA and one giving states and local governments more power to enforce federal immigration laws.

Republicans describe the bills as part of the piecemeal approach to overhauling U.S. immigration policies, which the party long has favored over a single, comprehensive reform measure.

"There are many issues plaguing our nation's immigration system but the biggest problem is that our immigration laws are not enforced," USA Today quoted House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., as saying. "While presidents of both parties have not fully enforced our immigration laws, President Obama has unilaterally gutted the interior enforcement of our laws."

As for children, U.S. laws prevent the quick deportation of those from Central America, as well as other places that are not next to the United States.

They often go through a long court battle while pursuing asylum, and remain in the United States while it is pending, USA Today points out.

The Protection of Children Act by Rep. John Carter, R-Texas calls for the fast return of such children and would deny them the right to have attorneys subsidized by taxpayers to represent them in their asylum case.

People who advocate for more lenient immigration policies say the measure to make the process for staying here stricter for children is inhumane.

"These proposals are completely inconsistent with the American ideal of protecting the persecuted," USA Today quoted Eleanor Acer, director of refugee protection at the non-partisan Human Rights First, as saying. Such hard-line bills regarding children, she said, "would eviscerate the United States' legacy as a global leader in protecting refugees."

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