Congress may be headed toward a stalemate on the border.
The crux of a House GOP working group's plan, laid out Wednesday, to address the influx of children streaming to the U.S.-Mexico border contains fundamental differences from the Senate's evolving blueprint.
A proposal that lawmakers have decried as one of the most contentious—and possibly irreconcilable—is a change to the 2008 anti-trafficking law prohibiting Central American children from voluntary removal. This is a key component of a plan from a House Republican working group, led by Rep. Kay Granger. House GOP Conference members were briefed Wednesday morning on the group's recommendations to solve what President Obama has called a humanitarian crisis at the border.
The recommendations—which haven't been set in stone—included a number of bullet points focused on securing the border.
- Deploy the National Guard to the border to assist Border Patrol agents. Granger did not say exactly what the number of troops might be.
- Require the Homeland Security Department to craft and implement a plan to "gain operational control" of the southwest border.
- Address border-security issues in Central America and Mexico.
- Create repatriation centers to help families and unaccompanied minors once they return to their home country.
- Implement aggressive messaging campaigns—which are already underway in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These are aimed at exposing the dangers of the journey to the U.S. and dispelling the myth that children will be permitted to enter the country.
- Process family units within five to seven days. Children should have a fast-tracked immigration-court hearing within seven days after a child welfare official's screening. More judge teams and temporary judges would be added.
- Establish an independent commission to craft metrics to show if initiatives to secure the border are working.
- Create tough penalties for smugglers and disassemble transnational criminal organizations.
The GOP outline may not have the full backing of House Republicans. The scope of conservative opposition to the Granger plan isn't yet fully known, but it is rooted in a narrative that has dictated GOP hostility to everything immigration-related that has been discussed during this Congress.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Republicans' opposition is their visceral distrust of Obama to execute and enforce any of the laws they have already passed or may pass in the future. Conservatives have consistently accused Obama of selectively enforcing immigration law, and many have essentially ruled out any further legislating on the issue until a new president resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.