Immigration crisis simmers, Congress on vacation
A majority of Americans believes their elected officials are just as productive during their current five-week break as they are in session, according to a new poll by NBC, The Wall Street Journal and the Marist Survey Research Center.
The poll reveals almost 75 percent of the country believes that Congress has been â??unproductiveâ?? this year, and over half of all polled characterized them as â??very unproductive.â??
Between breaks, Congress is scheduled to work just 113 days this year. The August recess comes as Congress failed to reach an agreement on what to do about a costly immigration crisis.
A system handling just 6,000 immigrant minors a decade ago, the U.S. is now flooded with more than 57,000 minors since last October, most from Central America. President Obama wants $3.7 billion in emergency funds for the final two months of this fiscal year: $1.8 billion to feed and house the massive influx of people, and $1.2 billion for processing.
Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute says that the expenditures arenâ??t necessarily unreasonable. â??Congress can spend money that it doesnâ??t have,â?? Rosenblum says. â??We run a deficit in many years.â??
Although most agree that the issue has reached crisis levels, members of Congress disagree on how best to address it. â??The President wonâ??t use what he has now to enforce the law,â?? Representative Randy Weber (R-Texas) says. â??So we want to give him more to what--not enforce the law more? The president has had the wherewithal, the authority, and has the money to secure the border from day one. He refuses to do so.â??
The two houses of Congress have proposed very different funding plans to solve the crisis as soon as possible.
The Democrat-led Senate plan proposes a total of $2.7 billion to cover the last two months of this fiscal year. That would see $1.2 billion going towards housing and humanitarian assistance by the Department of Health and Human Services, and $1.1 billion towards Homeland Security protection.
The Republican-led House on the other hand, proposes a funding package totaling $694 million. That plan would have $197 million going to H.H.S., and $405 million to Homeland Security.
The issue eventually proved too contentious to be put to a vote before five-week vacation. However the backlog of displaced childrenâ??and the costsâ??continues to build.
Rosenblum, though, says those issues are manageable.
â??The United States, in terms of our population and in terms of GDP, we can handle taking care of 50,000 kids if, you know, thatâ??s what our hearts tell us what to do,â?? he said.
Congressman Weber, however, warns of the eventual cost to the criminal justice system.
â??When you grow a government bureaucracy, youâ??ve got a larger criminal justice system,â?? Weber said. â??More immigration lawyers, more immigration judges, more immigration courthouses, a bigger system.â??
Most of the immigrants are said to be refugees fleeing poverty and violence in their homelands of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Even with emergency funds in limbo, the White House already announced $384 million in June for programs in those countries.
In the meantime, Americans and the immigrants themselves wait for Congressâ?? solution after the five-week recess.
(Original story by Independent Investigative Contributer Sharyl Attkisson)