House Speaker John A. Boehner sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday asking for clarity on whether the administration believes a 2008 dealing with unaccompanied minors at the border should be changed.
In the past several weeks as the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico boundary has intensified, the White House has skirted direct questions about whether the law — which says children from Central America are to be handled differently than those from the contiguous countries of Mexico and Canada — should be altered or even scrapped entirely.
The administration instead has said it wants greater flexibility in enforcing the law and, in turn, dealing with the thousands of unaccompanied children flooding to the border from nations such as Guatemala.
But Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said that to truly tackle the problem, Mr. Obama must take a crystal-clear position on the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act.
"Frankly, it is difficult to see how we can make progress on this issue without strong, public support from the White House for much-needed reforms, including changes to the 2008 law," he said in the letter. "I hope you will take the earliest possible opportunity to voice your continued support for common-sense efforts to stem the flow of children to our border. Working together, we can help provide crucial humanitarian relief, and work to secure our nation's borders."
Earlier in the day, a House task force recommended changing the law so that all children are treated the same as Mexicans when it comes to removal. That would mean that any unaccompanied child, no matter his country of origin, would remain in federal custody while awaiting an immigration court hearing that must take place within a week.
The White House has proposed a $3.7 billion package — including money to beef up border security and hire more immigration judges — to deal with the situation on the border, but that request did not include any suggested changes to the 2008 law.
Mr. Boehner said he and his fellow Republicans were "surprised" the administration did not ask for changes to the law.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.