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Homeland Security Committee holds field hearing about surge of immigration

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A number of individuals involved in efforts to handle the recent increase in immigration by Central Americans, many of which are unaccompanied minors, took part in a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives today. The hearing was led by Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. In his opening statement, McCaul described operations by drug cartels that include the trafficking of children from Central America through Mexico to the U.S. These children are often submitted to a myriad of abusive behaviors, and in some cases lose their lives from the horrendous conditions.

McCaul stressed that because of these activities, an influx of lone children have been entering the U.S. illegally. He pointed to a lack of law enforcement by the federal government, forcing the state of Texas to devote resources meant for border patrol instead to processing and sheltering the children. Now the state is struggling to keep its border protected from future immigrants. McCaul places primary fault upon President Obama's administration:

No one questions the fact that the circumstances in these countries are terrible, but these conditions are not new...What is new is a series of Executive Actions by the Administration to grant immigration benefits to children outside the purview of the law...The message these policies are sending is 'if you come, you can stay.

McCaul continued in his statement by suggesting several remedies for the problem, namely a swift deportation of illegal immigrants back to their home countries. He also called for more interaction between the U.S. and Mexican governments to help secure Mexico's southern border.

Texas Governor Rick Perry also spoke in the hearing. In his testimony, Perry brought up the problems that have come with this crisis. Texas has already found a confirmed case of H1N1 influenza, with two more type A flu cases that could possibly also be H1N1. Perry asked for the federal government to administer medical screening to immigrants being released into U.S. communities pending their court dates. He also requested that U.S. Border Patrol agents be permanently stationed across the border, and supplied with adequate technology, to protect the nation from incoming gang members and immigrants with terrorist ties. He finally noted that Texas should be reimbursed for its expenses in fulfilling a federal responsibility, which has come to about $500 million since 2004.

Other individuals gave their testimonies in the hearing, including DHS Chief Patrol Agent Kevin Oaks, Hidalgo County Sheriff J. E. Guerra, and Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw.

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