Republicans propose halting foreign aid until border surge stops

 

Congressional Republicans are pushing legislation that would halt aid to Mexico and three Central American countries until they take action to stem the flow of children across the border.

Freshman Rep. Randy Weber's (R-Texas) bill, known as the Illegal Entry Accountability Act, would halt aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the three countries where most of the immigrants are coming from.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from those three countries, have been detained on the U.S. border after entering through Mexico, mainly through the Rio Grande Valley into Texas. 

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“If the president and his administration won’t act, then I will," Weber said in a statement, adding that the bill would "hold our southern neighbors accountable."

Weber was elected in 2012 to replace Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a libertarian-minded congressman and former GOP presidential candidate who was skeptical of the usefulness of foreign aid.

President Obama on Monday asked for increased authority from Congress to deal with the immigrant surge and is expected to request $2 billion in additional funding. The Homeland Security Department announced Tuesday it would send an additional 150 Border Patrol agents to the region. 

Many Republicans argue the administration has not done enough. They blame the president’s relaxed deportation policies for creating the misperception that young illegal immigrants would be allowed to stay in the country once they arrive. 

The administration has begun a campaign to push back on that idea, while also blaming the increased immigration on crime and unrest in Central America. It has announced a number of programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve security there. 

Last month, the administration said it would provide $9.6 million in aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help repatriate immigrants removed from the United States.

The effort also includes $40 million in programs dedicated to Guatemala, $25 million to El Salvador and $18.5 million to Honduras, among other ongoing programs. 

Weber thanked Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for increasing state resources but said the federal government has left the state in the lurch. 

"Frankly, the Border States have been left hanging to fend for themselves, increasing the health and security risks to our citizens," he said. 

The legislation is co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Ted Yoho (Fla.), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Steve Stockman (Texas) and Pete Sessions (Texas).

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