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Nativists continue their run in Congress, block help for children at border

Imagine 2050 Staff • Aug 04, 2014

Republican House leaders have once again caved to the anti-immigrant wing of their party. In doing this, they have derailed any possibility of Congress addressing the needs of Central American children and families fleeing violence.

Rep. Steve King

Last Thursday, stridently anti-immigrant Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) most notably led the effort — with assistance from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — to ensure that any Republican-backed proposal to address the situation at the border also defunded the program to defer deportations for DREAMers under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Parroting the talking points of Beltway anti-immigrant organizations, these members of Congress wrongly assert that programs offering temporary deportation relief like DACA are the reason thousands of children and families are making the perilous journey from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.

A modified proposal including defunding DACA — catering to the demands of Cruz, King and their nativist cohorts in Congress — was proposed and passed Friday.

“The changes brought into this are ones I’ve developed and advocated for over the past two years,” King told Roll Call on Friday. “It’s like I ordered it off the menu.”

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) lauded the harsh new bill for “stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country.” Given the extreme measures within the new proposal standing no chance of being approved by the Senate, House Republicans guaranteed Congress would not address the issue before the August recess.

Accordingly, resource-strapped Border Patrol facilities and overwhelmed immigration courts will remain unassisted for at least another five weeks. And the steadfast obstruction so frequently advocated by anti-immigrant organizations and their Congressional allies continues.

“It’s very important we show we’re a governing party,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) lamented on Thursday. “It’s bad enough we shut the government down last year.”

The Washington Post reported other Republicans similarly derided their colleagues’ cynical actions:

“You can’t go home!” Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) shouted in an interview after the closed-door huddle. He suggested such a move would send a terrible message to Obama: “You’re right, we’re a do-nothing Congress.”

“America did not send us here to do nothing,” said Rep. Steve Southerland II (R-Fla.), a junior member of the leadership team facing a tough November election.

Once again, Speaker John Boehner and the rest of House Republican leadership have surrendered to the outrageous demands of the anti-immigrant movement.

This would be tragic if it weren’t so predictable.

After all, we have seen Boehner continually facilitate inaction on myriad issues for much of his tenure as House Speaker.

The real tragedy in all this is that the needs of thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States from pervasive violence will continue to go unaddressed. For Congress, this is not merely another instance of ugly partisan politics derailing legislative progress. It is a dereliction of duty.

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