This week Congressional leaders, President Obama, and countless others have been struggling with what to do about the thousands of unaccompanied Central American children—most from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—crossing the Mexico border into America. As we wrap up the week, here are 10 key statements lawmakers have made about the issue since Tuesday, when President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.73 billion in emergency appropriations to deal with the situation.
An initial reaction from Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, to Obama's funding request:
Plainly, the situation for many of these unaccompanied children is extremely dire, and the United States has both a security and a moral obligation to help solve the crisis at hand. It is also apparent that additional funding to prevent and fight wildland fires—especially in the West where the damage has been so great—is necessary.
And Rep. Rogers responding Friday morning to Obama's funding request:
It's too much money.
Here's President Obama at a press conference after his Wednesday meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
While we intend to do the right thing by these children, their parents need to know that this is an incredibly dangerous situation and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay. And I've asked parents across Central America not to put their children in harm's way in this fashion. …
Obama also said Wednesday that he would not personally be visiting the detained children:
There's nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on. This isn't theater. This is a problem.
Texas Gov. Perry criticized President Obama for his decision not to visit. From a CNN interview that aired Thursday:
The American people expect to see their President when there is a disaster. He showed up at Sandy. Why not Texas?
And it's not just Republicans who are upset about Obama's decision not to visit. Here's Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) on Fox News:
I'm sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after—for a long time. So, I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to border. He should come down.
But beyond boots on the ground from Obama, what do politcal leaders think should be done? Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—and many other Republicans—wants to send everybody back home ASAP. McCain said Wednesday:
The only thing that's going to stop these children from coming is if their parents see planeloads of them coming back to the country of origin.
While Obama also supports deportation, many Congressional Democrats disagree, including Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. Durbin worried Wednesday over the conditions we would be sending the children back to:
Many of these countries that are sending these children are out of control. There's no law enforcement to speak of, they literally shove the garbage in the middle of the streets so people go through it rather than starve to death.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also stressed the dire situation the migrant children face at home. At a hearing Wednesday, Leahy said:
When you have an eight- or nine-year-old girl who's being raped by gangs (and escaping violence), I'm not sure Americans would all feel like we should immediately send them back.
Gov. Perry has requested 1,000 additional National Guard troops be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border immediately. He also wants to "allow the National Guard to utilize Predator drones along theT exas-Mexico border for identifying and tracking human and drug trafficking."