Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Shift Central American aid to Detroit to stop influx of immigrant children

by Candice Miller on June 26, 2014

David Shepardson, the Detroit News

June 24th

Washington — A Michigan Republican congresswoman wants to halt millions of dollars in aid to Central American countries — especially Mexico — and send the money to impoverished U.S. cities such as Detroit because tens of thousands of children are illegally entering the United States.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, vice chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee who heads the subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said at a Tuesday hearing the federal government, including the Agency for International Development, should halt aid for Central American countries because they aren’t trying to stop children from crossing the border.

“Examples of what our USAID is being used for in the Centrals include helping civil society programs, climate change and addressing the gender gap in education and the workforce. We’d be better off spending this money in the inner cities of America. We can start with Detroit,” Miller said.

“No more money from America until they step up their own responsibilities and stop their citizens from illegally migrating to the U.S.


Vice President Joe Biden is going to Central America this week to talk with…

Detroit, one of the nation’s poorest big cities, filed for the country’s largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013, citing debts of nearly $20 billion. Miller’s 10th Congressional District covers part of Macomb County, but doesn’t include Detroit or any of its bordering cities.

Since October, the U.S. Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 immigrant children at the southern border in Texas and Arizona — most from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Republicans including Miller blame the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy for encouraging what they call a “humanitarian crisis” because it halts deportation for most immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children before 2007.

They say smugglers and others are encouraging parents to let their children make the trip, thinking they will be allowed to stay.

“I also called on the administration to begin an aggressive public relations campaign in the Centrals to tell parents not to put their children in danger of paying Mexican drug cartels up to $8,000 a head to smuggle their children into the U.S.,” said Miller, who later Tuesday sent a letter making the same requests directly to President Barack Obama.

She criticized Mexico for “behaving badly and dishonorably as they are not just complicit, but profiting from this human smuggling from the Centrals. We need to take some steps to protect America by getting our neighbor’s attention. Instead of increasing funding by hundreds of millions, as the president has called for, we need to stop foreign aid to the Centrals — immediately.”

Miller also called on the Obama administration to consider reopening or repealing existing trade pacts, including the 20-year-old North American and 9-year-old Central America free trade agreements.

“We are not an ATM machine,” she said, “and we can’t just sit here while this humanitarian crisis is worsening, endangering innocent children.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said at the Tuesday hearing it is critical that Central America take steps to help prevent the flow of unaccompanied children to the United States.

“We have to engage with them on our shared border security interests,” Johnson said, noting that President Barack Obama has spoken to the Mexican president about the issue. “The discussions have been ratcheted up.”

He didn’t comment during the hearing on Miller’s suggestion that the U.S. government cancel aid and send it Detroit and other cities.

The White House last week announced plans to increase U.S. assistance to Central American nations by more than $250 million.

From The Detroit News:

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