House Republicans are blaming President Barack Obama for the growing number of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children seeking illegal passage into the United States over the southern border, and on Tuesday they unveiled a plan that might exert additional pressure on the administration.
Speaker John A. Boehner, who just sent a letter to Obama on the subject at the end of last week, announced that he had convened a "working group" to probe "the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border." Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, will head up the effort, Boehner said in a statement:
“The president has allowed a national security and humanitarian crisis to develop on the U.S. southern border. There are two imperatives here: protect those children and secure our border. I sent a letter to the president last week outlining a series of steps I believe need to be taken immediately to achieve those goals. These steps include sending the National Guard to the border to protect these children, so the border patrol can do its job. “The president has failed to take the necessary steps to address this crisis, so today I’ve decided to form a working group to advise us and keep lawmakers informed on the situation down there. I’m pleased that Kay Granger has agreed to lead this effort, and I know this group will get to work immediately.”Other task force members include those who have, currently or at some point in the past, been working to advance broader immigration overhaul legislation.
One such member is Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. Despite his continued efforts to rally support behind a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill in the face of opposition from many in his own party, Diaz-Balart has remained critical of the Obama administration and its handling of immigration policy.
"We must find a humane solution to make sure these minors are both safe and healthy, while strictly adhering to the laws of this great nation," Diaz-Balart said in a statement. "I look forward to working with my colleagues so that we may find the best solution. Once again, the Administration has failed to lead and therefore, Congress must do its part."
Diaz-Balart is joined on the task force by Rep. John Carter, R-Texas. Carter was, with Diaz-Balart, a member of the House bipartisan "gang of eight" to move an immigration measure, which ultimately disintegrated when Carter, among others, dropped out of the group, citing distrust of Obama to enforce immigration laws.
Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., has also been appointed to Boehner's new task force, and on Wednesday his panel will host a hearing devoted entirely to the crisis. The group is rounded out by Homeland Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who also has some jurisdiction over the issue, along with Reps. Steve Pearce and Matt Salmon, whose districts in New Mexico and Arizona, respectively, have a stake in what occurs at the border.