BORDER CRISIS; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 110
(Senate - July 15, 2014)

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[Pages S4470-S4472]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                             BORDER CRISIS

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, as have many Americans, I have watched with 
increasing concern and increasing frustration the rapidly growing 
humanitarian crisis on our southern border. More than 60,000 
unaccompanied alien children--mostly minors from Guatemala, Honduras, 
and El Salvador--have been apprehended at the border in this fiscal 
year, and we have 2\1/2\ months remaining. The numbers are staggering. 
Another 40,000 family members--one or both parents traveling with their 
children--have also been apprehended just in this fiscal year.
  To put these numbers in perspective, in 2008, the number of 
unaccompanied alien children apprehended at the border was 8,000. Three 
years later, in 2011, the number had doubled. It had doubled to 16,000. 
This is a situation we perhaps didn't see coming, but should have.
  Today, of course, the numbers are staggering, as I mentioned. The 
number has skyrocketed. In fact, in April and May of this year, 10,000 
have arrived. We simply cannot sit back and let this situation grow 
worse as it does day by day. We must now find a way to solve this 
crisis and stem the flow of unaccompanied minors entering our country. 
It is imperative that this Congress and this administration work 
together to do this and do this immediately. We dare not move toward 
our regularly scheduled August recess without accomplishing the 
solution or resolution of this current crisis, which is impacting 
children, impacting families, impacting communities, impacting many 
across the United States in terms of this crisis.
  As we do this, I think it is important that we be guided by some key 
principles, including laws that are currently on the books--laws that 
might need to be adjusted--as well as compassionate hearts in terms of 
how we deal with those who are here but will need to be returned to 
their homeland.
  First, clearly and foremost, we have to enforce existing law. 
Existing law says we need an orderly process. Immigration needs to be 
legal. It needs to be processed in an orderly way and in a way so that 
we can accommodate those who come from out of the country. I am the son 
of an immigrant who was processed through a legal process, a process 
that speaks for many of us not only here in this Chamber but for many 
across America. We are all in a sense immigrants. For over 200 years, 
we have come as immigrants through a legal process. Today we find a 
situation where our borders are being swamped with those who are 
attempting to come illegally, for whatever reason. More importantly, we 
have to make it clear to them that the law does not allow this to 
happen. So we have to get control of the border. We have to get control 
of our immigration process.
  I think all of us feel the need for immigration reform. Step No. 1 
has to be securing our borders so we can convince the American people 
we can return to an orderly process of bringing immigrants to this 
country and not be overwhelmed by the illegal immigration flowing to 
our southern borders. It is also important because we need to let the 
families know and the children know their trip to America is not what 
has been promised them.
  Many believe this humanitarian crisis is focused on how we handle 
these children once they arrive at the border, and there is a need to 
address that issue. But in reality, the crisis for these children 
begins when they start their trip, given the dangers of the journey. We 
now know the children who are making these dangerous treks from Central 
America are often in the hands of smugglers, drug cartels, coyotes--
criminal elements that are delivering a false lie to families and 
individuals in these countries. They are basically saying, Get your 
children across the border and they will then be absorbed into American 
society and they will be in a better place. And, by the way, write us a 
check for $7,000 or $10,000 or $5,000, whatever the market bears, and 
we will ensure that your children arrive safely, and then you won't 
have to worry about them anymore. That is simply not true.
  Sadly, from the latest information that has come to us, in surveys 
that are being taken and investigations that are being made, the story 
is horrendous. Often, for those in the hands of those who are seeking 
to bring them along the approximately 1,500-mile trip from Central 
America to the Texas border, the reality of what these children are 
facing and what these families are facing is startling and it is an 
issue that absolutely has to be addressed.
  Doctors Without Borders exists in southern and central Mexico, and 
they did surveys of those who were attempting to make this trip. They 
indicated that 58 percent of their patients suffered at least--at 
least--one episode of violence along their way from Central America to 
the United States. One media network did an investigation that followed 
the path of Central American migrants, including children, and while 
their numbers have not been verified or documented, they are 
staggering. Even if the results are half of what they claim, it is a 
situation of immense humanitarian dysfunction. They found that 80 
percent of all migrants will be assaulted, 60 percent of women will be 
raped, and only 40 percent will actually make it to the border.
  Let's say those numbers are exaggerated. There is some indication 
this media outlet was, perhaps, sensationalizing their numbers. Let's 
say it is just half of that. But if it is half of that, it is a 
situation we absolutely cannot tolerate. We absolutely cannot sit by 
and say the only humanitarian crisis is taking care of these children 
once they cross the border--making sure they have vaccinations, 
sustenance, and a place to sleep until we get them processed. Those who 
claim that need to understand the crisis that exists before they ever 
get to the border, and the impact on these children in particular.
  In 2010, when the narrative coming out of the administration was 
chipping away at our Nation's immigration laws through the abuse of 
prosecutorial discretion, this generated whispers of hope that ran 
rampant through the families of our Central American neighbors and gave 
a false confidence that if you illegally enter our country, once you 
are here, you will be able to

[[Page S4471]]

stay. The belief spread in 2012 when the President took his 
prosecutorial discretion a step further by essentially halting the 
removal of illegal immigrants who arrived as minors.
  There was a process where, of course, they were given a piece of 
paper, which basically said: You have to appear before a judge, who 
will determine whether you are able to stay in the country or whether 
you will have to be sent back home.
  The narrative there was: This is your document that allows you to 
stay in America. In fact, it was not that at all. But because of the 
overwhelming number of people who received these documents, allowing 
them to stay here until they were adjudicated by a judge--because that 
number now exists around 375,000, and there is no way we can possibly 
adjudicate these and make these decisions in a short amount of time--
those who arrived simply melded into the society, and most never showed 
up before a judge who was making a decision about their legality or 
illegality.
  A key part of what we have to do here, in my opinion, is a 
repatriation plan. It is easy to just simply throw money out there and 
say we will come up with a plan later. I cannot support a provision 
that does not have policy changes to address this situation--policy 
changes that will allow us to inform our Central American neighbors 
that they must make every possible effort to engage with us in telling 
the truth to their constituencies and the parents of these children as 
to what lies ahead for them: the fact that they will be subjected to 
potential brutality, unspeakable, brutal efforts and consequences of 
this trip, as well as returned to their families and their countries.
  We have to together make this message clear that our laws require 
that these children be sent back, but we also have to make it 
abundantly clear they are putting their children at great harm and 
great risk to believe this narrative that says: They will be fine, they 
will be taken care of. Just give us the money and we will make sure 
your children become Americans and they will be fine in the future.
  Secondly, I think we need to go a step further. To deter children 
from making this journey, we have to return those who have already 
come.
  Included in a viable repatriation program has to be a streamlined 
process. I mentioned the number of the hundreds of thousands who are 
still waiting for their adjudication. There have been efforts and 
suggestions made by some of our colleagues on a bipartisan basis that 
we address and dramatically increase the number of judges who can go 
down to the border and make these decisions quickly so we can safely 
return these children home without having the horror of seeing these 
children rejected in different communities and no place to put them, as 
the numbers simply overwhelm our ability to care for them.
  The administration does have some flexibility under current law to 
move families and children through these immigration proceedings in an 
accelerated manner. However, I believe--and the Secretary of Homeland 
Security has stated--that we need to go further to change current law 
to treat all unaccompanied alien children the same.
  Now this is the President's own Secretary of Homeland Security, who 
has been to the border, whom I have met with and talked to several 
times, who is assiduously trying to address this issue in a bipartisan 
way. We need to work together to make sure we put the processes in 
place and the policies in place before we simply decide on a number and 
hope for the best later.
  We need to change the law to allow Central American children who 
qualify to choose voluntarily to return as well, rather than go through 
drawn-out immigration proceedings that should still lead to their 
removal and damage any chance they have to seek legal immigration in 
the future.
  This narrative out there, this story out there, is: Oh well, just go 
back across the border. Then maybe tomorrow you will get back here, and 
someone else will pick you up, and you will go to a different place, 
and you will start the process all over again, and you will finally get 
handed a piece of paper, and then don't worry about showing up in 12 to 
18 months later. You can meld into society, and everything will be 
well. That absolutely has to be addressed. If we do not do that, we 
will not succeed with this process.
  We also need to use our leverage with these foreign countries to gain 
their cooperation if they refuse to cooperate with us--whether it is 
withholding foreign aid, whether it is any number of punitive measures. 
We need to make sure the governments of these nations understand the 
risk to their children, the harm to their children, and the fact that 
we are going to enforce the law, and that if they want to continue 
future relations with the United States through a legal immigration 
process, they have to work with us to convince their constituencies and 
give them the truth as to what is happening to their children--to 
engage in this process of working with us to stop this flow of 
illegals.
  Now, obviously, we have to provide reasonable care for those who are 
already here. The vast majority of the new funding the President is 
requesting would go for caring for the illegal immigrants who are 
already here. It includes housing, transporting, and caring for the 
children and families already in the United States.
  I believe it is our responsibility as a nation and as a compassionate 
society to care for the hurt and displaced. But we cannot simply open 
our arms and encourage all the world's children to strike out on their 
own, face endless dangers, and come to our shores with the belief that 
they will be welcomed and accepted and integrated into our society. We 
simply do not have the capacity to do that on a worldwide basis, and we 
see the trouble we are having from just three countries. What are we 
actually doing to stem the flow of unaccompanied alien children coming 
to the United States? And when will we begin to see the tide turn? That 
is something that has to happen and must happen initially.
  Finally, in addition to the care which we must provide--the 
sustenance and the health care and the bedding and the nutrition and 
the efforts we need to make; and thank goodness for so many nonprofit 
organizations, churches, and others that have volunteered to join us in 
this particular effort--but it cannot be an ongoing effort. It has to 
be something that is accompanied by significant changes I have talked 
about before in terms of policy. You have to stop the bleeding. You 
have to stop the effort first and convince the American people that we 
finally gained control of our borders before we can move to any kind of 
sensible immigration reform.
  This is going to be expensive. We are going to have to make sure the 
money we are spending is spent as part of a plan to address the 
problem--not just simply address it and have the problem continue, but 
address it in a way, on a one-time basis, that we put an end to this 
story: Send your children and they will be just fine.
  Mr. President, the time is moving on, and I know my colleague is 
waiting to speak and we have votes coming up. So let me shorten this by 
simply concluding, at the end of the day, we have a huge humanitarian 
crisis on our hands on our border. I believe we have a moral 
responsibility to swiftly address and solve this crisis. We have to 
understand that the crisis involves more than just unaccompanied 
minors. We cannot ignore the national security implications of a weak 
border. There are many dark powers in this world that wish to see the 
influence of the United States diminish--that wish to extinguish the 
beacon of freedom that we have been to the world.
  So for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of our national 
security and the safety of these children, it is imperative we act now 
and get it right. It will only happen if this body, the Congress--the 
House and the Senate--and the President will work together to put in 
place, on an expedited basis, a sensible plan to address this 
humanitarian crisis. ``Save the children'' means: Don't put those 
children in the hands of smugglers, coyotes, criminal elements, only 
for them to go through the horrendous consequences that have become the 
humanitarian crisis we are addressing.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.

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  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Heitkamp.)
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

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