Although Kathy Castor has been a major advocate for comprehensive immigration reform in recent years, she says she has no problem with the news
that President Obama plans to ask Congress next week for increased powers to send unaccompanied children from Central America back home, across the U.S. border they tried to cross illegally.
President Obama addressed the nation this afternoon regarding his frustration that a solution to comprehensive immigration reform has not come to fruition this year. The plan that he intends to ask Congress for next week includes increased penalties for persons who smuggle immigrants who are vulnerable, such as children. He also plans to seek more than $2 billion to respond to the issue, all part of a broader administration response to what the White House has called a humanitarian crisis on the border, and it's upsetting some pro-immigration advocates, but not the Tampa Democrat.
"This is a catastrophe, what's happened in Central America," Castor told CL today when asked to comment on Obama's proposal. The Border Patrol in South Texas has been overwhelmed for several months by an influx of unaccompanied children and parents traveling with young children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Unlike Mexican immigrants arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, those from Central America cannot be as easily returned to their countries. Obama is seeking authority to act more quickly.
"I do think it's appropriate for the President and everyone across the country to let the word go forth — do not
send your children," Castor said on Monday in Tampa. "Do not send them through a pipeline or trust someone to take them to the border area. It is not
going to turn out well, and that's the most important thing."
It's been almost exactly a year since the U.S. Senate passed a bill for comprehensive immigration reform; the president bemoaned its fate in the House this afternoon. "Their argument seems to be because the system is broken, we shouldn't make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense," he said of Congressional Republicans.
The President defended his use of executive actions, which led House Republicans to literally sue him last week.
According to Politico,
Obama is also going to direct Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to shift immigration enforcement resources from the interior section of the United States to the border. And Obama is asking administration officials to send him recommendations on other additional actions that he can pursue without the blessing of Congress — more of those executive actions that have infuriated conservatives.