WASHINGTON — A budgeting request by President Obama that would have spent $50 million in taxpayer funds on lawyers for unaccompanied minors immigrating to the United States illegally was blocked by the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee led by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) during the markup process for Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill this week.
A report by the Associated Press says that the flow of unaccompanied minor children, often teenagers, across the U.S-Mexico border has slowed since it first grabbed the attention of Americans last year.
Unaccompanied minors in the country illegally are often housed with relatives or put in group homes while they work their way through the process to either become legal residents or be sent back to their country of origin.
Instead of spending money to strengthen the border, the Obama administration created through executive action the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants younger than 31 and had who arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007 to be considered for deportation protections. The President updated the plan in 2014 by dropping the age cap and requiring applicants to have arrived in the States before Jan. 1, 2010.
Opponents of DACA say the President’s executive action actually caused the increase in unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the U.S. as “coyotes,” or people who smuggle illegal immigrants across the border for a price, spread the false promise of amnesty for young immigrants.
After the influx of last year as a result of the President’s executive actions, Obama came back with a request for funds to pay lawyers to guide the minors through the process.
“President Obama continues to ignore and unilaterally change our nation’s immigration policies,” Senator Shelby told Yellowhammer Thursday. “His disregard for our laws only encourages immigrants to disregard them as well – further exacerbating the influx of unaccompanied minors coming to this country illegally. American taxpayers should not be on the hook for millions of dollars because of the Administration’s failure to enforce our immigration laws. Instead, we should expeditiously send these unaccompanied illegal minors home in a fiscally responsible way. I believe that enforcement and removal – not amnesty – must be the first response to our nation’s illegal immigration crisis.”
The CJS appropriations bill appropriates $965 million above the previous year’s amount, and $3.5 billion below the President’s request.
“The Committee has made difficult but necessary decisions to craft a bill that meets these strict fiscal limitations,” Senator Shelby said during the subcommittee markup of the bill. “Within these budgetary boundaries, I believe the Committee has achieved a careful balance between the competing priorities of: law enforcement, national security, economic development, scientific research, and space exploration.”
Also included in the appropriations bill is $18.3 billion for NASA, a chunk of which will certainly make its way to Alabama, and funding for the new National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, as well as provisions championed by Shelby and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) extending state fishery boundaries of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana from 3 miles out to 9 miles and giving direction to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to more accurately count the number of Red Snapper found in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Red Snapper fishery is vital to fishermen and businesses across Alabama,” Shelby said, “and I am pleased that this bill includes several provisions that will help respond to the challenges facing anyone that wants to fish for Gulf Red Snapper.”
The bill was passed by the Appropriations Committee Thursday and will be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks. President Obama has already issued a veto threat.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015