President Barack Obama's call for additional authority to more quickly turn back young Central American border crossers is coming amid mounting resistance from some members of his Democratic Party to measures that could create shortcuts around the immigration court system.
Obama was meeting at the White House Wednesday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as his administration is asking Congress to give the Department of Homeland Security the ability to speed up the removal of young people who are crossing the border in increasing numbers.
A memorandum from the Hispanic Caucus ahead of the meeting said members will address, quote, "the need to ensure due process protections for children are not rolled back."
At issue is a 2008 law that requires unaccompanied youths under the age of 18 who cross the border illegally to receive an immigration hearing, a process that is heavily backlogged and means that many wait months to years for their hearings. That provision does not apply to border crossers from Mexico, however. If captured, Mexicans can be returned promptly if a Border Patrol official determines that they are not eligible for asylum or status as refugees.
A plan by House Republicans and a bipartisan bill proposed by Texas lawmakers would change the law to allow Central Americans to be treated the same way as Mexicans.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office said she opposes those changes, a shift from last week when she said that changes to the 2008 law would not be a deal breaker on Obama request for $3.7 billion in emergency spending for the border. "If any changes to the 2008 law are made, they must ensure due process for these children," her spokesman, Drew Hammill, said.
Read more at the Associated Press