Monday, December 18, 2017

House GOP prepares response to border crisis

WASHINGTON — House Republicans announced Tuesday that they will recommend dispatching the National Guard to south Texas and speeding Central American youths back home as their response to the immigration crisis that's engulfing the border and testing Washington's ability to respond.

The recommendations, to come from a working group established by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will set up a clash with leading Democrats who oppose changing U.S. law to eliminate automatic immigration hearings for Central American kids and return them more quickly to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where some areas are overrun by brutal gangs.

With Democrats and the White House under growing pressure from immigration advocates to hold firm against the GOP approach, a solution for the growing crisis presented by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border is looking increasingly elusive with three weeks left before Congress leaves for its annual August recess.

"It's a critical situation, and if we don't deal with it urgently but well, done right, we're facing a crisis of just huge proportions," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who traveled to Honduras and Guatemala over the weekend with members of the House GOP working group, including its leader, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. "Time is of the essence."

Granger, Diaz-Balart and others said their proposals would include sending the National Guard to help overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, increasing the number of immigration judges, adding assistance to Central American nations and changing a 2008 trafficking victims law that guarantees hearings for Central American youths. The law has the practical result of letting the young people stay in the country for years as their cases move through the badly backlogged immigration courts.

At the same time, Republicans are working to significantly pare down President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the border, hoping to act quickly on a smaller spending bill along with the package of policy changes. The recommendations were to be formally released later this week, but lawmakers discussed their broad outlines Tuesday.

In response, Democrats and immigration advocates called for quick action on a "clean" spending bill without controversial policy changes attached. The White House urged speed but did not insist that Congress act only on the spending bill.

"There's already been ample opportunity for Congress to take action, and we want to encourage them to move forward with some sense of urgency," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared that: "With this money, we can take care of the problem."

Republicans made clear that was out of the question.

"What I will not do is vote for a blank check for the president for something that will not solve the problem," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who has written a bill along with fellow Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat, to make some of the same changes the House working group is proposing.

Granger said the average immigration case takes a year and a half to five years to go through the court process, even as more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have arrived at the border since October. "That's just not acceptable, so we've got to change that," she said.

With Republicans refusing to support a border spending bill without major policy changes attached and Democrats refusing to support one with them, any final outcome was unclear with November midterm elections approaching.

Meanwhile, the children keep coming, with 90,000 expected by the end of the fiscal year. They flee violence but might also be drawn by rumors that once here, they can stay.

Comments
The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in last season's Super Bowl, and no one will let them forget it.Including the Bucs.During a playful exchange on Twitter in May, Tampa Bay trolled its division rivals by posting a photo of Vernon Hargreaves, No. 28, and Ja...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

With Jon Gruden becoming the 11th member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor tonight, what about current members of the Bucs?Bucs roundtable question: What current Bucs player not named Gerald McCoy is most likely to wind up in the Ring of Honor. Member...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What to watch this week: Holiday movies galore with ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Scrooged,’ ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

What to watch this week: Holiday movies galore with ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Scrooged,’ ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

There's only one week left until Christmas. By now, we hope you're finishing up shopping and preparing to hunker down in front of the tree and TV for a wrapping spree. Don't worry, there's plenty of holiday movies and specials to keep your mind off a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida Department of Education posts proposed Schools of Hope rules

Florida Department of Education posts proposed Schools of Hope rules

Aiming to jump start the a controversial new charter school system for the fall, the Florida Department of Education has unveiled proposed rules for potential Schools of Hope operators to follow.The recommended rule, which is slated for Jan. 17 State...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Brian Wilson coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Brian Wilson coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Brian Wilson is a genius, okay? If he wants to extend his Pet Sounds 50th anniversary tour so far that it loops back around to some of the same markets more than once, let him do it.The visionary singer-songwriter behind the Beach Boys has exten...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Charlie Puth coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Charlie Puth coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Did you miss Charlie Puth at Saturday's 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball in Tampa? Well, you won't have to wait too much longer to — say it with us now — see him again.The singer-songwriter behind hit singles See You Again and Attention is heading ou...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Although Florida juvenile justice said it would weed out bad hires, somehow this guy slipped through

Although Florida juvenile justice said it would weed out bad hires, somehow this guy slipped through

The Miami Herald's Carol Marbin Miller continues her investigation into Florida's broken juvenile justice system:It took just two months for Chris W. Jeffries to get into trouble at his new job as a counselor for delinquent teens with drug or behavio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Photo of the Day for December 18, 2017

Photo of the Day for December 18, 2017

Today’s Photo of the Day comes from Brad Prevatt of Wimauma, FL.To download or order reprints of this and other Photo of the Day images, please see our Photo of the Day gallery.Check out the Photo of the Day post for December 14, 2017.Send us y...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Assisted living group challenges generator rule

Assisted living group challenges generator rule

A statewide long-term care association has challenged a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott's administration to make permanent a controversial rule that requires assisted-living facilities to have generators and enough fuel to provide 96 hours of backup powe...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Atlanta and Matt Ryan are in town to face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, so it's a chance to revisit a quarterback Tampa Bay knows well, with 19 meetings over the past 10 seasons. A couple of talking points for tonight's game and the challenge ah...
Updated: 4 hours ago