- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2014

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the United States needs to demonstrate that it can secure the southern border before tackling comprehensive immigration reform, and part of that entails detaining unaccompanied minors and sending them back home.

“You need to detain the children humanely and send them back home,” he said Monday on “Fox and Friends.” “The reason most of these youngsters are not coming from Mexico and Canada is because we did change the law in 2008 which allowed humane detention and immediate return without going into all of the legal processes that these youngsters from Central America are subjected to.”

“It’s very, very simple,” Mr. McConnell continued. “If the word got out that you’d be humanely detained and immediately returned, it would stop. [It] doesn’t require massive amounts of federal assistance that the president asked for.”

Mr. McConnell said he believes Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson favors such a policy message but has been overruled by the White House, which has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to speed up deportations and address security and other concerns tied to the surge of illegal immigrants from Central America, including many unaccompanied children.

President Obama is also scheduled to meet with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador this week to discuss the issue.

“[The president] wants to say this is because we didn’t pass comprehensive immigration reform last year — it has absolutely nothing to do with that,” Mr. McConnell said. “What it further illustrates is how insecure the border is, which is the reason why the American people were reluctant to support comprehensive immigration reform, because until you secure the border, nothing else makes sense.”

“I think right now we need to demonstrate that we can secure the border by getting these youngsters back home as quickly as possible,” he said. “Until the American people see us have some success with border security, I don’t think they’re going to be open to the broader question of comprehensive immigration reform.”