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Boozman tours Texas alien-holding units

By Sarah D. Wire

This article was published August 2, 2014 at 4:04 a.m.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/SARAH D. WIRE - 02/04/2014 - U.S. Sen. John Boozman speaks to the media after the Senate approves the farm bill 68-32. The Rogers Republican was a member of the committee that negotiated the final bill.

WASHINGTON -- As Congress debated how to address the number of children flowing across the country's southern border, U.S. Sen. John Boozman and six other senators Friday visited one of the main processing centers for those entering illegally.

The senators visited the facility in McAllen, Texas, and traveled to the border to view the fence, before meeting with detained children at a separate Department of Health and Human Services facility.

Customs and Border Patrol has picked up more than 57,000 unaccompanied children -- about three-fourths from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras -- since October, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In July, President Barack Obama proposed a $3.7 billion supplemental appropriation bill to provide housing and care for those who have made illegal crossings and to supply additional security at the border.

Democrats and Republicans have argued since then about what immigration policy changes to include and how much emergency money to approve.

A procedural hurdle kept the U.S. Senate from approving their version of the bill Thursday. The House was scheduled to vote on its version of the funding bill late Friday. With the start of a five-week August recess, no legislative action is expected to occur until the two chambers return.

Boozman said the federal agencies will be fine with the money they have until after the House and Senate return. He voted no on the Senate bill because it didn't sufficiently specify how the president would use the money.

"I think the vote against that [Thursday] night was the correct vote," he said. "We need to provide the funds that are needed for the humanitarian care ... but right now there is an adequate amount of money in the pipeline to do that until late September."

Boozman said he kept hearing Friday that the number of crossings has dropped significantly. That is because the United States is sending people back home, he said.

"When those people are showing up back in their countries, that's a real deterrent to making the trip," Boozman said.

He reiterated some Republicans' argument that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by the president without congressional input in 2012, has inspired the wave.

Through the program, hundreds of thousands of people brought into the country illegally as children have received temporary reprieves from deportation while they apply for citizenship.

"People began calling home saying 'you can come, you can stay,' and so they started coming, but now they're saying 'we're in the detention center, we're not getting to stay,' and so that message is getting out," he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has created a public awareness campaign in Central American countries about how dangerous the journey is and that children who do make it to the United States will be sent back. Homeland Security also has more than doubled the number of Border Patrol agents in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

Early reports about the influx included allegations that border control facilities weren't prepared for housing so many small children.

But in the past month, the border protection agency has built a new facility to handle the increase, which includes space to prepare and serve food and provide medical care, Boozman said.

"They were just overwhelmed and trying to do the best they could," he said.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; John Cornyn, R-Texas; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Angus King, I-Maine; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., were also on the trip.

"It's a complex problem," Boozman said. "There's no substitute for actually being some place, seeing and also visiting with the people that are on the front lines."

None of the other members of the Arkansas delegation have visited the border in the past six months to see the current conditions, their staff members said Friday. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is scheduled to travel to McAllen late next week.

Metro on 08/02/2014

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 total comments

dildel says... August 2, 2014 at 4:58 a.m.

There is no reason for Griffin to go sightseeing on taxpayer's dime as he will be leaving office very soon and will not be involved in the Washington process to address this problem. Save us the money and be fiscally responsible.

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WGT says... August 2, 2014 at 7:05 a.m.

Obama provides money to help alleviate the burden of the issue. Boozman and others vote no "because it didn't sufficiently specify how the president would you use the money."
My! This is why nothing is getting accomplished . No one will work together. Egotistical men who think they know better. Embrace the help! We need to show these immigrants how to come to America correctly. They are scared. They have predators after them from their backsides and in front of them the possibility of having a better life as you and I enjoy; then stopped because of stalwart politicians who want "to assess the situation". "Give us your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free", is not being practiced a it should be. America should set the example of how to help others less fortunate, but no, we have politicians politicking when they should have their sleeves rolled up and getting their damn hands dirty. That's what we elect them to do.

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Garycmillerlawgmailcom says... August 2, 2014 at 9 a.m.

Good for Boozman. Hope he means well.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... August 2, 2014 at 11:40 a.m.

Oh we just borrow more money from China to pay ......

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lazyman says... August 2, 2014 at 12:03 p.m.

WGT-You've got to be kidding. We welcome legal immigrants with open arms. How many of those coming in illegally are you inviting to live with you? We have enough of our citizens getting paid for nothing and now we are supposed to welcome thousands more to do the same.

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NoUserName says... August 2, 2014 at 12:23 p.m.

"We have enough of our citizens getting paid for nothing and now we are supposed to welcome thousands more to do the same. "
I'd be willing to bet those thousands more work their tails off and have little in common with the citizens we have getting paid for nothing.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... August 2, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.

Then that would be child labor you are talking about.

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RonalFos says... August 2, 2014 at 7 p.m.

We don't need to borrow money from China. The top 1% of Americans have more money hiding in offshore tax havens than we owe China.

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