U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) spoke to Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant Tuesday on WGAU, an Athens’ 1340 AM radio station, about a solution to the drastic increase in illegal border crossings by young children, mostly from Central America. Isakson believes that amending one law, the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, would help resolve the situation.
The law was passed under President George W. Bush. It was meant to help children from Central America who often were victims of child trafficking. Under the law, children from countries other than Mexico and Canada must be given a court hearing before being deported. Since all immigration issues have a huge backlog, the children often wait for years before any legal action is taken.
This wait time is what made some people south of the border believe that the children are actually allowed to stay. As long as an immigration case is pending in U.S. courts, the immigrant in question can remain in the country and live a relatively normal life.
On top of that, President Barack Obama put a hold on deportations of illegal immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, giving families all the more reason to send their children to America. Many of the kids would not even get basic education in some of the rural areas in their home countries, so the trip is worth all the risks to some desperate families.
Isakson, along with a long list of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and President Obama, believes that changing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to ensure faster processing for all the minor children would solve the problem.
“We need to amend that law, to say that they can be sent home within 72 hours, like somebody from Mexico or Canada – and stem the tide,” said Isakson. “Once they see that we’re going to send them home, the attractiveness of trying to get into the United States of America will be diminished and will lessen the pressure on the border.”
Two Texas lawmakers, Sen. John Cornyn (R) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D), already introduced legislation on Tuesday along the lines of what Isakson outlined, and the congressional leaders have pledged to pass some kind of resolution to the problem before the summer recess.