House Speaker John Boehner is less than optimistic that Congress will approve emergency funds to address the child migrant crisis before lawmakers break for recess next month.
“I don’t have as much optimism as I’d like to,” Boehner said at a press conference on Thursday, when asked if he thinks a deal can get done.
Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on how to address the wave of tens of thousands of Central American children and adults who have crossed the border since last October. Boehner’s comments indicated those differences are unlikely to be resolved by the end of the month.
At the center of the debate is a 2008 anti-human trafficking law that prevents the government from quickly sending unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras back to their home countries.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the law; the Obama administration has said it wants more flexibility to quickly remove children and adults from Central America.
Boehner suggested that growing opposition among congressional Democrats makes it harder to reach a deal.
President Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help clear the backlog in immigration courts, lessen overcrowding in detention centers, and warn parents of children in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador not to send their kids on the dangerous trek to the United States. Administration officials have said that agencies could run out of money to tackle the crisis if the funding is not approved.
Republicans, however, are balking at the price tag. And some GOP members want that proposed spending offset with budget cuts elsewhere.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), an immigration hardliner, demands that any bill addressing the migrant crisis include language terminating President Obama’s 2012 deportation-relief program for young undocumented immigrants. Many Republicans have blamed that initiative for the surge of young migrants over the last 10 months.
House Republicans have established their own working group to come up with proposals to stem the crisis. But so far “no decisions have been made,” according to Boehner.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.