U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told the Obama administration it needs to propose a "serious plan" to stop unaccompanied minors from entering the United States illegally. He detailed a three-part plan to secure the border, cut off foreign aid to countries that don't help the U.S. send unaccompanied children home safely and change federal law to help deal with the crisis more quickly.
"What's missing here is a serious plan from President Obama to secure the border," Alexander said in a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member. "The president needs to secure the border now -- using the National Guard in the way that President Bush did if that's what it takes -- and deal with this crisis of unaccompanied children illegally entering our country. We need to send these unaccompanied children back home safely, as quickly as possible, and we should cut off foreign aid to countries that don't cooperate."
Alexander continued, "If a Democratic amendment to legislation that passed in 2008 makes it more difficult to send these unaccompanied children back to a safe place in their own countries, then we need to change the law."
The senator made his remarks at a hearing on President Obama's proposal to deal with the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the southern U.S. border. Alexander said a serious proposal would do three things:
Secure the border -- In particular, he said, the Obama administrationneeds to secure the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas, where upwards of 400 children cross the border each day. That may require the use of the National Guard, as President Obama did with 1,200 troops in 2010 and 2011, the senator said. President Bush enacted a more extensive plan, Alexander said, activating 30,000 members of the National Guard from 2006 to 2008.
Send unaccompanied children home safely -- Alexander said the United States needs to send unaccompanied children back to their home countries safely. If foreign countries won't help in finding the children a safe place to return to, then they "shouldn't receive another dime of foreign aid until they cooperate," Alexander said.
Fix the law -- Alexander said Congress should re-examine the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, which included a Democratic amendment that may be making it more difficult to quickly and safely send unaccompanied minors back to their home countries.
Alexander first called on President Obama to consider deploying the National Guard on July 9. On June 26, Alexander joined 42 senators in sending a letter to President Obama calling on him to "make clear" that the U.S. will enforce its "strict rules about how people get into our country."