The current flood of unaccompanied children (UACs) from Central America crossing our southern border is both a humanitarian and border security crisis. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am carefully reviewing the President Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency funding request sent to Congress last week to address this crisis. Any additional funding, beyond the regular Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations process already underway, will need to target priorities including: securing the border, providing adequate facilities to house children safely, and expediting deportations.
An estimated 90,000 children are predicted to cross the border by the end of the year. This situation must be dealt with swiftly in a manner consistent with our nation’s humanitarian values and our commitment to the rule of law. Allowing these children to remain here would only encourage more families to expose their children to the horrendous risk in making the dangerous trek to our border.
As with any complex problem, it is difficult to point to any single root cause. If current laws, such as the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, are unintentionally encouraging children to be trafficked to our southern border or hindering our ability to return these children to their homes in a prompt and safe manner, then Congress must act to make the necessary revisions to the law. At the same time, President Obama absolutely must be clear that the children sent to our border will not automatically be permitted to stay.
The House will act to ensure adequate federal resources are available to respond to this growing crisis in a manner that deals with the issue resolutely but with the human feeling that is intrinsic to the character of the American People.
Congressman Dent serves on the House Appropriations Committee