Competing House GOP bills would speed up deportations

Two members of the House Republican working group on the border, Rep. John Carter (Texas) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), have introduced bills to expedite deportations of child migrants crossing the border.

The two measures are separate from the House GOP working group led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas). Granger's group, which has not released its formal recommendations to the rest of the Republican Conference, has indicated interest in amending a 2008 human trafficking law that currently subjects child migrants from countries that don't border the U.S. to a lengthier process.

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Under current law, unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada must be screened with 48 hours and sent back to their home countries unless they are human trafficking victims or can claim asylum. Meanwhile, children from noncontiguous countries must go into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and appear an at immigration hearing.

Carter's bill would subject all child migrants, regardless of whether they come from contiguous countries or not, to the same process. It would require immigration enforcement officials to investigate the people who take custody of the children and allow the government to keep the children in custody while their claims are being processed.

Meanwhile, Goodlatte's bill, which he introduced jointly with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would similarly speed child migrant deportations. All unaccompanied immigrant children would be quickly sent back unless they had a "credible fear" of persecution.

The Goodlatte legislation would require the child migrants to apply for asylum within a year of entry into the U.S. and undergo removal proceedings. It would further give the Border Patrol access to federal lands in the Rio Grande Valley so they can track immigrants' routes.

Additionally, the Goodlatte bill would authorize the Justice Department to add at least 50 new full-time immigration judges for two years.

Both measures would ensure that taxpayer money is not used for the unaccompanied minors' legal expenses. 

In separate statements introducing their bills, Goodlatte and Carter blamed President Obama for the surge in child migrants.

"The president caused this self-inflicted crisis at our border when he decided to broadcast to the world in 2012 that our government will not deport children who have come to our country illegally," Carter said.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman urged for quick action on the issue, even as prospects for passage of an emergency funding package for the border look increasingly tenuous.

"We must swiftly take action to end this crisis — children's lives are at stake, and so is the integrity of our immigration system," Goodlatte said.