Sends letter with 41 other senators calling on president to “make clear” about enforcing U.S. law, no special treatment
June 26, 2014 - June 26, 2014
“Parents and local officials need to understand that it’s a dangerous trip to make – many of these children are facing violence – and that we will enforce our immigration laws. The president’s message must be clear: If their children or teenagers come here illegally, we will send them home.” – Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) last week joined a group of 42 senators in sending a letter to President Obama calling on him to “make clear” that the United States will not provide special treatment to those entering the country illegally and will instead consistently enforce immigration laws. The letter is in response to an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors being apprehended after crossing the southern U.S. border.
“The most important thing we can do about our immigration problem right now is to secure our borders, and President Obama should make clear to parents and officials in other countries that in the United States, we respect the rule of law and we have strict rules about how people get into our country,” said Alexander. “Parents and local officials need to understand that it’s a dangerous trip to make – many of these children are facing violence – and that we will enforce our immigration laws. The president’s message must be clear: If their children or teenagers come here illegally, we will send them home.”
The letter, written by Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), calls for the president to make clear that those entering the country illegally will not receive preferential treatment under U.S. immigration laws. That includes making clear that unaccompanied minors apprehended after entering the country illegally will not be eligible for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. This policy of President Obama’s administration says federal agencies should not deport children who were brought here illegally, if they arrived before 2007 and have not committed any crimes.
The letter also asks the president to make clear that legislative options for staying in the country legally – such as the Senate-passed immigration legislation – only apply to minors who have been in the country for an extended amount of time, to discourage further illegal immigration. It also asks the president to work with the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to clarify misinformation about U.S. law and enforcement practices, and to help them discourage illegal immigration into the U.S. from their countries.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear President Obama:
We write to urge you to personally send a clear message to those seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.
The increasing numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border in Texas has caused an unfolding humanitarian situation that has required a coordinated federal response. While a number of factors are influencing the influx of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border, a significant contributor is reported misrepresentations of our immigration laws by bad actors such as human smugglers and a misunderstanding of our immigration laws by parents and children.
We urge you to use the resources at your disposal to personally make clear to those seeking entry to the U.S. illicitly that they will not receive special treatment when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws. Based on reports from unaccompanied children and federal officials, we respectfully recommend that you specifically convey that those unaccompanied children now entering the U.S. will not be eligible for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Similarly, it would be helpful for you to clarify that legislative remedies at hand require children to have been in the country for an extended duration. For example, legalization under the Senate-passed immigration reform legislation requires, among other things, that undocumented immigrants have been present in the U.S. since December 31, 2011.
In addition, we encourage you to convey to your foreign counterparts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the urgent imperative for them to dispel the misunderstanding of our laws and to take action against those who are spreading such misinformation. Importantly, we also request that you work with the leaders of these countries to improve conditions in their countries so that their children do not feel the need to make the dangerous journey to the U.S., and to enhance regional collaboration to address this crisis.
The present situation begs your personal efforts to clarify U.S. immigration laws and to spur action from leaders of the primary sending countries.
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