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Congress Still Has No Solution To Border Humanitarian Crisis

David Martin Davies
TPR News
For border detention centers such as this one, a solution for the humanitarian border crisis can't come quickly enough.

Texas Matters: As Congress comes up on summer break there is still no solid solution in place for what to do with the unaccompanied minors coming into Texas. There are several plans up for proposal but even Texas Democrats disagree with each other. Also on this show: According to one report, the number of abortions in Texas has dropped since last year's passage of a new abortion law.

Congress running out of time for border/immigration solution

The latest reports from the Texas-Mexico border show a reduction in the number of children fleeing Central American poverty and violence and being apprehended at the border. Nevertheless, it’s expected that about 90,000 children will make the trip this year and end up in U.S. custody and in the overwhelmed federal immigration court system.

On Monday Gov. Rick Perry announced that is deploying up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border – although it’s not clear what role, responsibility or authority the guard will have.

And in Washington D.C. it’s hoped that Congress will put aside partisan bickering and political opportunism to find additional funding and an elusive immigration solution for the children. That hope is fading fast since there is less than a week left before Congress goes on summer break.

Credit David Martin Davies / TPR News
TPR News
A Salvation Army emergency relief food truck distributes food in McAllen, Texas.

Whatever solution is cobbled together, bipartisanship will play a role, which is troubling since even the Texas Democrats in Congress can’t agree on a solution.

However, Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, is earning salutes from Republicans for his efforts to speed up the deportations of the immigrant refugee children with his sponsorship of the HUMANE Act.

"As the president, or in my case as a member of congress, we have a responsibility to control our borders and therefore we have to follow what the law is. There is no refugee designation (but) there is asylum, there is legal protection -- should I say credible fear or victim of human trafficking -- that is what the law calls for right now. Unless we have immigration reform, we have to follow the law. That is what the law is. This issue is not easy. Even the president acknowledged it to the Hispanic caucus, quote: "I cannot go there," which is declaring everybody as a refugee, because then instead of 58,000 we would have a quarter million, half a million, kids coming to the U.S."

Texas Democrats want to keep legal protections for minors

The HUMANE Act is not winning much support from Cuellar’s fellow Democrats. Congressman Lloyd Doggett who represents San Antonio and Austin is critical of the proposals and says the legal protections for the children should not be rolled back.

"It does not demonstrate that we have an insecure border. These children have been coming across the Rio Grande and immediately turning themselves in seeking refuge. We have a law in place to respect their rights, to see that they're fairly evaluated, to assure that they are not involved in being trafficked or abused, and that if they have a legitimate asylum claim that that claim is honored rather than to give them some snap judgment and rush them through the system and send them back from whence they came."

Also on this edition of Texas Matters:

Number of abortions drops in Texas

Just over a year ago the Texas legislature, in a second special session, passed a slate of abortion restrictions. Gov. Perry signed them into law on July 18 2013.

These measures include a ban on abortion at 20 weeks post fertilization and recognize that the state has a compelling interest to protect fetuses from pain. Doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and there are new restrictions for women taking abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486.

Abortion clinics are also required to meet the same standards as other surgical health care facilities, but that part of the law goes into effect on September 1.      

A study released this week from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project looked at how these new restrictions are impacting access to abortion in the state. It found a 13% decline in abortion in Texas since the laws implementation. The lead author of the study is Dr. Daniel Grossman.

Anti-abortion groups celebrate anniversary of HB2

Organizations like the Texas Alliance for Life lobbied hard for the abortion restrictions and celebrated the law’s passage. Joe Pojman is the executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi