Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after House Republicans unveiled their framework for addressing the humanitarian situation at the border:
"The House Republican's plan to address this humanitarian situation shows a misunderstanding of the circumstances, and fails to tackle the root of the problem.
"First, the arrival of unaccompanied minors is not a failure in border enforcement. Not only are the thousands of children in the government's custody evidence of that, but we have also met nearly every border security target that President Bush's 2007 immigration bill set. The humanitarian situation at the border is the result of children fleeing horrific levels of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which has the highest murder rate in the world. To truly address this crisis, we must look at the root causes and find ways to help improve conditions in these countries.
"Second, it is the wrong approach to address this humanitarian situation by weakening the 2008 law. This legislation, that passed with bipartisan support and was signed by President Bush, is in place to protect minors who are fleeing human trafficking, violence, and abuse. Now we have over 57,000 unaccompanied children within our borders, yet the Republican response is to weaken this law. We are a world leader in refugee resettlement and we have the institutions and the legal framework in place to give these children due process. This humanitarian situation shows why our country needs the 2008 law, not why we should weaken it.
"As Congress considers the President's request for funding, we should be focused on doing what we can to protect these children and to improve conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The fact that unaccompanied minors are leaving their families and everything they know to make an extremely dangerous journey away from their homes shows how unlivable conditions are at home. I oppose simply deporting them without considering the protections our laws provide. These children deserve due process, and I support increased funding for immigration judges and legal representation to help the unaccompanied children make their case in court."