Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Miller blasts Obama on refugee crisis

by Candice Miller on July 7, 2014

7/7,Macomb Daily, by Chad Seleweski

A key figure in the congressional debate over efugee children crossing the nation’s Southern border, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, on Monday blasted the Obama administration for plans to send the arriving Central American kids to detention centers across the country, including a Michigan facility near Frankenmuth.

Miller, chair of the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said the preliminary efforts to house undocumented children and their mothers at the state-funded Wolverine Human Services facility demonstrates how chaotic the White House response has become to the influx of migrant minors arriving in the U.S. from the violence-plagued nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“The ongoing humanitarian crisis at our Southern border is quickly spreading across our nation as the administration begins transferring these illegal immigrants across our nation, including potentially here to Michigan,” said Miller, a Harrison Township Republican.

The Associated Press reported the influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has grown so large that it now requires its own transportation system: government buses that spend each night idling on a Texas roadside, awaiting the latest arrivals.

The buses, joined by a fleet of Border Patrol vans, illustrate the immense and grinding task facing Border Patrol agents in the 5-mile slice of deep South Texas that has become the epicenter of the recent surge in illegal immigration.

“This crisis began when President Obama acted outside the law offering legal status to children who entered America illegally along with their parents. his caused many throughout Central America and Mexico to believe that all children needed to do was reach our border and they could stay, and so countless thousands began to send their children on the harrowing journey north,” said Miller, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“The Obama administration did not recognize this threat or (disregarded) the threat and has been slow to react as our border security forces have been overwhelmed,” she said. “To date all the administration has offered is increased spending on aid to the same Central American nations that have helped instigate the crisis and little in terms of defending our border. It is long past time for this administration to take decisive action.”

A 2008 legislative amendment initiated by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush created a special status for children fleeing the violence of Central America.

Most of the immigrants who have arrived at U.S. borders over the past nine months hail from Central America, and many come with children. They often turn themselves over to authorities immediately after crossing the Rio Grande River in Texas, following the advice of smugglers, friends and relatives, who tell them they will eventually be released and allowed to continue to their American destination.

For parents with young children, that has largely been true because the U.S. has only one long-term family detention facility, located in Pennsylvania, and it is full. Most parents are handed notices to appear at the immigration office closest to their destination and dropped off at bus stations across the Southwest.

Children arriving without their parents are transferred to custody of the Health and Human Services Department, which tries to reunite them with family members in the U.S.

The White House said Monday most unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief that would prevent them from being sent back from their home countries.

The pointed warning came as the White House finalized a spending request to Congress detailing the additional resources President Barack Obama wants in order to hire more immigration judges and open additional detention facilities to deal with the border crisis. White House officials said they planned to send the more than $2 billion request to lawmakers on Tuesday.

“While only a few facilities will ultimately be selected, a wide range of facilities are being identified and evaluated to determine if” they will be used as temporary shelter space, Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human services’ department’s administration for children and families, said in a statement. “Facilities will be announced when they are identified as viable options.”

According to Wolfe, the holding centers are being identified by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. General Services Administration “to increase the medical care and temporary sheltering capacity of the HHS.”

City leaders met with officials from the Wolverine Human Services facility in Vassar last week to discuss the ramifications of housing the children.

Miller, who has called for a halt to all U.S. aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala while the refugee crisis continues, has gained the backing of two outspoken Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. McCain and Graham urged the president to consider cutting off aid to countries who are “complacent” with the influx. The congresswoman said the administration has reacted counterintuitively by offering to send more money to the Central American countries that are witnessing a high rate of murders and violence related to drug cartels and gangs.

“Weeks ago I called on President Obama to send the National Guard to the border to assist our overwhelmed border security agents, and to end foreign aid and special trade agreements, like NAFTA and CAFTA, with the nations whose governments are not taking the appropriate actions needed to help us solve this problem,” Miller said.

“In addition, it is imperative that the people being apprehended at the border not be released from custody because if they are, it is very unlikely they will ever return for immigration hearings on their status, and they will disappear into society. In order to send the message to Central America and Mexico that our border has meaning, we must send these people back to the nations they came from, and we must do it immediately. If this requires changes to federal law, then we must immediately get about the work of changing the law.

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