In July, I had the honor of delivering the commencement address to the graduating students of Columbia College in Fort Worth.
For those who may not be as familiar with Columbia College, it’s located on the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base and is unique because a majority of the student population serves in the military. In fact, out of the three colleges that make up the Columbia College system nationwide, one in every four of their enrolled students is serving in the military.
While Columbia College is similar to most traditional universities in terms of the degree tracks available, the process of attaining their degree is different than most for these students. Since a majority of the students are actively serving in the military or have retired from the military, many of these students have started earning their degree later in life or have had to postpone completion of coursework because of deployments. Also, for a majority of the students, regardless of a military background, they are working full time jobs and taking care of their families in the process.
The Columbia College staff and educators understand well that their students are working to earn their degree in a non-traditional way and they all deserve to be commended for their first class professionalism. The faculty and staff have a passion to help every one of their students attain their educational goals. As a former teacher myself, I appreciate their high level of commitment and dedication.
What also makes Columbia College exceptional is the fact that so many of the graduates also give back to their communities in their own way; not to mention the sacrifices of those who serve, or have served, in the military. I know this firsthand because I have a Columbia College graduate on my staff in Fort Worth. She served honorably in the military, and she is now serving the 12th Congressional district by working with constituents who have case work issues they need help resolving with the federal government.
Among those who graduated this year include a cancer survivor who returns every year to “Camp Make a Dream” as a motivational speaker to share her story and bring hope to young people going through what she went through at a young age. There was also a graduate who switched degree tracks so that he could become a teacher and coach after he retires from the Navy, as well as a gentleman who served 17 deployments away from home. While his deployments prevented him from completing his degree in a traditional time frame, he never deterred from his goal of ultimately receiving his bachelor’s degree.
I am truly inspired by the stories of the men and women who attend Columbia College. They are a remarkable group of people who epitomize the words service, character, and determination. Sincerely, Kay Granger Member of CongressRead More
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Working Group to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, spoke on the House floor today in the support of the House Republican Border Crisis Supplemental legislation.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you Mr. Chairman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, As we speak, unaccompanied minors continue to be sent from Central America through drug cartel smuggling networks across Mexico and through our southern border.
Families are being lied to and manipulated by the coyotes. The $6,000 their families spend to send their children to the United States goes into the bank accounts of the most powerful drug cartels in the world. Since October, over 58,000 unaccompanied children have made the dangerous journey to the United States, and many more will continue to come unless we send a clear message that they will not be allowed to stay in the United States.
I have seen firsthand the crisis that has unfolded at the southern border in places like the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. I have seen the women and children sleeping on the floor of a bus station in Laredo. I have seen motherless infants being cared for by any stranger who is around. I have seen the children who are alone in detention facilities in McAllen, Texas and I have seen the 1,200 kids who are being sheltered at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. And, most disturbing of all, I have heard the stories about the most god-awful journey no one should ever have to experience.
We are here today because we have a responsibility to stop this crisis. The president has failed to lead, so I firmly believe this chamber must act. Doing nothing is not an option.
Since June when the speaker asked me to lead a working group to provide policy recommendations on what we can do to address the crisis, I have been to the Texas-Mexico border twice and led a CODEL to Guatemala and Honduras to see where the children are coming from and why. I will be returning to the border tomorrow for a third time.
The members of the working group dove head-first into this issue to understand this crisis and provide recommendations for a short-term, immediate response. The policies we recommended are not an attempt at immigration reform. They are serious solutions to address this crisis. I want to take a moment to recognize the hard work of the members of the working group who made policy recommendations to the conference and the expertise they all brought to the table. I want to thank:
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee John Carter Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Matt Salmon Congressman Steve Pearce from the Financial Services Committee Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from the Appropriations Committee
One of our conclusions from the last several weeks is that Congress should not provide more resources to the administration without changing the policies that have led us to the situation we are in today.
Administration officials, and officials in the Central American countries, have all said that we have to make changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. A month ago it appeared there was a bipartisan consensus forming on the issue. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said from the White House podium just three weeks ago, when discussing changes to the 2008 law that it is: “A priority of this administration, and if you listen to the public comments of Democrats and Republicans, it sounds like it’s a bipartisan priority.” I agree. And it is disappointing that the White House has backed down from their original statements on how we could immediately address this issue.
We are not asking for a repeal of this law. We are saying we need to tweak the 2008 law so that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexican and Canadian children for removal purposes. The policy changes included in this bill ensure that children receive a prompt hearing within seven days after they are detained, and require that a judge rules no later than 72 hours after a hearing.
Accelerating the hearing times requires more judges. I thank the chairman for including the necessary funding to hire 40 temporary judges until this crisis is under control. For repatriations, we are prioritizing “last in, first out.” This means that the last child to go into U.S. government custody will be the first one we send home.
After families have spent between $6,000 and $9,000 to send their children here, this will send a strong message to the families in the countries of origin that their children will not be permitted to stay. This is a message of deterrence. I also note that Chairman Rogers has prioritized funding for Central American countries to safely and humanely return these children.
With the surge of children there has been increased pressure on our Customs and Border Protection officials. This supplemental deploys the National Guard to assist high traffic states. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their mission. To fully support Customs and Border Protection’s mission, we include a provision to allow Border Patrol unfettered access to federal lands. Right now through a memorandum of understanding, Border Patrol officials are only permitted to pursue suspects onto federal lands. They cannot do regular patrols.
Finally, the supplemental includes a sense of Congress that children should not be detained at military bases. While this will not change the law, this provision addresses a serious and growing concern from members of congress. Not least of the concerns is that children should not be stored on military bases.
The Congressional Budget Office has given its assessment of the policy changes in this bill. They have said that because the legislation allows for the children to self-deport, it will lead to immediate savings.
This is a smart, targeted bill that addresses the crisis immediately. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the supplemental and show the American people that we are going to end this crisis.
Thank you, Chairman Rogers, and I yield back the balance of my time.Read More
House Republican Border Crisis Supplemental LegislationMyths and Facts
Myth: The bill would abolish voluntary return for unaccompanied minors.
Fact: The bill would make all unaccompanied minors eligible for voluntary return immediately, speeding the return of many unaccompanied minors to their home countries. Current law only allows UACs from contiguous countries to be eligible for voluntary return.
Myth: This bill will result in more people getting asylum.
Fact: This bill will reduce the number of migrant children granted asylum. Under the House Republican bill, unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico would be treated the same as unaccompanied children from Mexico and made eligible for immediate return to their home countries, reducing the number of those who may claim asylum. This prioritization is expected to further reduce the number of applications for asylum given the fact that 95 percent of unaccompanied children who applied for asylum in FY 2014 did so after being in the U.S. for more than 100 days. Through the 3rd quarter of fiscal year 2014, only two percent of unaccompanied minors have claimed asylum and only a portion of those claims were approved.
Myth: The bill appears to put the majority of unaccompanied minors in the new court proceedings, where they are permitted to withdraw their application for admission at any time.
Fact: This is false. The bill would only put unaccompanied minors who do not consent to voluntary return into court proceedings, and these court proceedings would be expedited to hasten the return of these children to their home countries.
Myth: The bill creates a new seven-day court proceeding for all unaccompanied minors in which an immigration judge determines whether a UAC has a claim for immigration relief.
Fact: The court removal proceedings are not seven-days long, but must occur within seven days. At this expedited removal proceeding, the child will be required to prove to the judge that they are eligible for relief from removal under current law and standards. If not, they will be ordered removed and detained until they are sent back home. This new expedited procedure allows the unaccompanied child no opportunity to appeal or delay proceedings
Myth: Unaccompanied children are screened for credible fear by the Border Patrol
Fact: Under both current law and the bill, border patrol agents cannot make a credible fear determination, they can merely refer an unaccompanied child for a credible fear interview. Even then, a credible fear screening is only the first step in the asylum process.
Myth: The majority of these UACs will claim a fear of persecution or state their intent to apply for asylum.
Fact: Through the 3rd quarter of FY 2014, only two percent of UACs have claimed asylum and only a portion of those claims were approved. Under current law, the first step in the asylum process is the credible fear interview at USCIS. If UACs succeed at this interview, they must be detained pending a final adjudication of the asylum claim. If they fail to prove their full claim, they will be ordered removed from the country.
Myth: The House bill states that the DHS Secretary “shall permit” UACs who have received Notices to Appear (issued since Jan. 1, 2013) to appear before an immigration judge in the new proceeding created by the bill, move to have the Notice to Appear “replaced,” and apply for admission to the U.S.
Fact: The bill does not allow for the re-opening of orders of removal. The bill would merely allow children who have received Notices to Appear, but not had a court date, to come into court, submit to government detention and either be voluntarily removed or immediately placed in a non-appealable removal hearing.
Myth: The House bill does not use the word “detention” but rather “custody.” This is an important distinction because “custody” can be satisfied by transferring a UAC to HHS, which places the UAC in a non-secure setting.
Fact: There is no evidence that children are absconding from or escaping from HHS facilities. HHS does maintain secure facilities for children who are a danger or flight risk. If a child does escape and abscond from their court proceedings, they will be ordered removed in absentia and become an immigration fugitive. Keeping all children in secure detention facilities is dangerous, excessive and unnecessary.
Myth: The changes to the 2008 law in this bill would achieve the reverse of the bill’s intention- that this bill would result in all unaccompanied child minors, from all countries, going through a longer process - the same process given to minors who have been victims of trafficking, has a credible fear of persecution, or is unable to make a decision about withdrawing their application
Fact: This is false. Other similar bills that amend the 2008 included drafting errors which created this unintentional consequence. The terminology in the bill requires that unaccompanied children meet certain requirements to be eligible for removal, including the fact that they were not a victim of sex trafficking. Some bills had drafted their text to say “does not meet” which would have created a double negative and in fact had the result of excluding all unaccompanied children from voluntary removal. This bill does not result in treating Mexican children like non-contiguous countries and uses the proper phrasing to ensure that all UACs are treated the same, thus speeding the return of these children to their home countries.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Working Group to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, testified today during the House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 5230, the House border crisis supplemental legislation. Granger discussed the Working Group recommendations included in the supplemental legislation.
Granger’s Opening Statement as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you Chairman Sessions and Ranking Member Slaughter.
I am proud to sit with Chairman Rogers today and testify on a bill that provides an immediate and targeted response to address the humanitarian crisis that is happening right now on our southern border.
As we speak, unaccompanied minors are being sent from Central America through drug cartel smuggling networks across Mexico and through our southern border. Since October, over 58,000 unaccompanied children have made this journey, and many more will continue to come unless we send a clear message that they will not be allowed to stay in the United States. Congress cannot provide more resources to address this crisis without changing the policies that have led to the situation we are in today.
Since Speaker Boehner asked me to lead a working group to provide policy recommendations on what we can do to address the crisis, I have been to the Texas-Mexico border twice and led a CODEL to Guatemala and Honduras to see where the children are coming from and why.
From meetings with State Department officials in Guatemala, to meetings with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, those who are closest to the problem all say that we have to make changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. The policy recommendations the Working Group presented to the conference makes a tweak to the 2008 law so that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexican and Canadian children for removal purposes. The policy changes included in the supplemental also ensure that children receive a prompt hearing within seven days after they are detained, and with a requirement that a judge rules no later than 72 hours after a hearing. Accelerating the hearing times will require more judges. Our recommendation is that there are 40 temporary judges brought online until this crisis is under control. For repatriations we are prioritizing last in, first out. This will send a strong message to the families in the countries of origin that their children will not be permitted to stay.
With the surge of children, there has been increased pressure on our Customs and Border Protection officials. This supplemental deploys the National Guard to assist high traffic states. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their mission. To fully support Customs and Border Protection’s mission, we include a provision to allow CBP unfettered access to federal lands. Right now through a memorandum of understanding, CBP officials are only permitted to pursue suspects onto federal lands. They cannot do regular patrols. This has created high traffic areas for migrants who are doing far more damage to these protected lands than regular CBP patrols would.
Finally, the supplemental includes a sense of Congress that children should not be detained at military bases. While this will not change the law, this provision addresses a serious and growing concern from members of Congress. Not least of the concerns is that housing children on military installations are the least cost-effective facilities to house children. The Congressional Budget Office has given some initial feedback on the policy recommendations in the bill. They have said that because the legislation allows for the children to self deport it will lead to immediate savings.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to answering your questions.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Working Group to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, issued the following statement regarding the policy recommendations included in the House border crisis supplemental package.
“This is a crisis that deserves decisive leadership from President Obama, but his Administration has failed to lead, so the House will take action this week to resolve the urgent situation at the southern border. It would be irresponsible to allow this crisis to continue unabated for another month without immediate action to secure the border and deter more unaccompanied minors from making the journey and crossing the border illegally.
“The working group recommendations that have been included are the options I believe represent the most urgent actions that need to be taken to curb the flow of unaccompanied minors, along with women with children, from making the perilous journey to the U.S. border. Additionally, this plan provides the tools necessary to process and humanely return unaccompanied children and family units home as quickly as possible as well as to secure our southern border.
“The working group has diligently worked to provide recommendations for the conference to consider that were derived from meetings with interested parties and visits to the Texas-Mexico border and Central America, so I am pleased that many of the most essential aspects of the group’s recommendations have been included in the supplemental.”
Policy Recommendations Included in the House Border Crisis Supplemental Package
• Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 to require that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as unaccompanied minors from Canada and Mexico for the purpose of removals. Additionally, this would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in Health and Human Services custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials. Priority removal will be given to the children who have most recently arrived in the United States.
• Deploy additional temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims.
• Change the Immigration and Nationality act to strengthen the law prohibiting criminals with serious drug related convictions from applying for asylum.
• Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions within 100 miles of the US-Mexico border.
• Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol.
Text of the legislation, H.R. 5230:
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Working Group to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, issued the following statement announcing the group’s recommendations and solutions.
“This morning, I presented to the House GOP Conference the recommendations of Speaker Boehner’s working group. I am proud of the set of recommendations and solutions that the working group has crafted over the last few weeks. These recommendations reflect the immediate crisis this country faces by providing common-sense, compassionate, but tough solutions.
“Our focus has been to ensure the safety of the children and it has remained a top priority throughout this process. In our personal meetings with the Presidents of Honduras and Guatemala they both stated that they wanted their children back, and we believe that is in the best interest of all the countries involved in this crisis. We look forward to working with these countries as they prepare to receive their children back.
“Anyone who has been to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley knows that the men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are doing a remarkable job, but they are stretched thin with the massive surge of children crossing the border, and the quickest way to provide relief is by deploying the National Guard. The National Guard would also assist with the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors, which will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.
“The recommendation to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 is something both parties agree on and modifications to the law can be done to expedite the process while ensuring proper protections are in place for the children who need them. We recommend amending the 2008 law, so that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same for the purpose of removal. This would be done by requiring unaccompanied minors who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in Health and Human Services’ custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must promptly occur after they are screened by child welfare officials.
“I appreciate the hard work the members of the working group have given to this process. Their insight and passion has been a crucial part of developing the recommendations we have set forth today.”
Recommendations and Solutions
Increase Border Security
• Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.
• Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.
• Require a DHS strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.
• Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.
• Establish border security in Central American countries and Mexico.
Return the Children
• Establish repatriation centers in originating countries in order to facilitate the return of family units and unaccompanied minors.
• Deploy aggressive messaging campaigns in originating countries and the U.S. to dispel immigration myths, clarify that individuals will be deported on arrival and advise on the dangers and legal penalties of traveling through Mexico to enter the United States illegally.
• Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border with the ultimate goal of processing family units 5-7 days. Congress must continue stringent oversight to ensure this mandate is being met.
Tweaking the 2008 Human Trafficking Law
• Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials.
• Deploy additional judge teams and temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims. Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system. Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing for those with legitimate claims. The standard under current law that allows an alien to show a "credible fear of persecution" needs to be examined and addressed to ensure a fraud-free system moving forward. In addition, criminal aliens and criminal gang members should not receive asylum.
• Establish tough penalties for those engaged in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors by strengthening penalties for human smugglers and those who assist them.
• Increase law enforcement operations domestically and in originating countries to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and encourage originating countries to pass strict laws against human smuggling.Read More
WASHINGTON — Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, who heads a Republican House of Representatives working group on the southern border crisis, offered recommendations Wednesday that she called “common-sense, compassionate but tough solutions” to deal with the surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the country.
The report combines support for get-tough measures such as speedier deportations and deploying the National Guard with concerns about child trafficking. It also calls for changing a 2008 sex-trafficking law that treats those entering illegally who are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador differently from those who are from Mexico, in order to quickly process and deport those crossing the border illegally.
It comes as lawmakers are wrestling with how to deal with what’s become a humanitarian crisis — with children traveling on the tops of rail cars in what’s known as the “train of death” — and a volatile political issue as communities push back against “amnesty” and housing these children and young families.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tapped Granger, a former mayor of Fort Worth who was elected to Congress in 1996, to lead a group of seven members in developing a balanced approach to dealing with the influx, which is primarily in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
“Our focus has been to ensure the safety of the children, and it has remained a top priority throughout this process,” Granger said in a statement after a private meeting Wednesday with the House Republican Conference.
Over the past two weeks, her group visited the Texas-Mexico border twice and conferred with leaders in Central America.
“In our personal meetings with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala, they both stated that they wanted their children back, and we believe that is in the best interest of all the countries involved in this crisis,” she said.
Granger, who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department and international agencies, has tried to bring a sense of compassion from her side into the debate over children who have endured hardship to come to the U.S., an element that Democrats have sharply criticized Republicans as lacking.
Still, Granger is upholding conservatives’ demands to secure the border.
“Anyone who has been to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley knows that the men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are doing a remarkable job, but they are stretched thin with the massive surge of children crossing the border, and the quickest way to provide relief is by deploying the National Guard,” she said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already called up 1,000 guardsmen to help the Border Patrol.
Boehner ratcheted up Republicans’ disagreement with the White House over border security Wednesday afternoon in a strongly worded letter to Obama, citing the administration’s failure to support changes to the 2008 law in its $3.7 billion supplemental funding request for the border.
Granger’s recommendation about amending the child trafficking law to treat Central Americans who enter the U.S. illegally the same as those from Mexico mirrors legislation authored by two other Texans: Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar and Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
“Frankly, it is difficult to see how we can make progress on this issue without strong, public support from the White House for much-needed reforms, including changes to the 2008 law,” said Boehner.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a leading Latino voice in the immigration debate, reacted sharply to Granger’s report.
“The Democrats have children to protect and the Republicans have a crisis to exploit,” he said.
Granger’s Democratic opponent in November, Mark Greene, also critized the GOP report.
“There are more than 50,000 children within our borders seeking refuge from horrific violence and sex trafficking in their home countries,” Greene said. “But the woman who is the leader of the GOP working group studying this crisis doesn’t appear equipped to give any realistic solutions to it.”
House Republicans are pulling together a bill that would provide an additional $1.5 billion for the border crisis, according to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., which is far below the Obama administration’s request. It will incorporate Granger’s recommendations, House GOP aides said, although it’s unclear when it will proceed, with Congress set to leave in early August for its summer recess.
In the Senate, the Democrats, who hold the majority, are working on a $2.7 billion bill for the border that doesn’t amend the child trafficking law. Cornyn, speaking to Texas reporters Wednesday, praised Granger’s work and said “the White House has rejected any effort to negotiate a solution. They just want the money.”
He added: “I’m not in favor of issuing a blank check to the president.”Read More
Texas is running out of room to house the thousands of Central American children who illegally crossed the border.
And U.S. Rep. Kay Granger said Saturday that the solution is not to continue piling them into bus stations and other makeshift shelters — including unused schools in North Texas — as officials try to find the best way to return the children safely to their families in countries as far away as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
“I’m having a real problem with what we are doing with these children,” said Granger, R-Fort Worth, who is leading the select group of Republican lawmakers studying the border crisis. “These children look just dazed.
“Some of those kids are being moved as many as three times within three days and they don’t know where they are,” she said. “How do we deal with this?”
Granger, whose group’s recommendations on what should be done are expected to be made public as soon as Tuesday, has traveled with other congressional leaders to Guatemala, Honduras and the Texas border to see the growing humanitarian crisis firsthand.
She has found children sleeping by the hundreds on tile floors in bus stations — or crowded 20 or 30 to a room at military bases — as Border Patrol officials work to find better places for them, especially if they have relatives in this country.
The cost of housing children who have journeyed here across Texas’ border with Mexico ranges from $200 to $800 per child per day, and the federal government is responsible for picking up the tab.
Texas leaders have long called for the White House to secure the border, but reports show that the steady stream of people illegally crossing the border to find safety in the United States has become a flood — especially of unaccompanied children — and has topped 57,000 since October.
“We have filled up the spots in Texas and they are looking at places in Maine and Washington state — wherever they can find the space,” Granger said.
It’s now time to stop “warehousing” the children and “work with them humanely to keep them safe,” she said.
Last month, top Texas officials signed off on a plan to spend $1.3 million a week to try to combat the problem, directing Texas Department of Public Safety officials to proceed with surge operations to secure the border through at least the end of the calendar year.
In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama has asked Congress to allocate $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help with the crisis.
And Texas leaders have traveled to the border, prompting U.S. Sen. John Cornyn last week to propose the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency Act to reform current law, speed the deportations of Central American children and ensure their safety while they are here.
“We are experiencing an unprecedented crisis,” U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, said in a recent video message sent to constituents in his district. “The recent influx … is staggering.”
Burgess and others oppose amnesty. Others, including U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, urge colleagues to overhaul the immigration system.
“We need to put politics aside and work together to pass a fair immigration plan for the 21st century that honors this country’s history as the land of opportunity, justice and equality for all,” Vesey has said.
Granger said the solution to the crisis may be as complex as the problem itself.
“I’m trying to tell people what the situation is,” she said. “People are really angry and they don’t understand how this happened.”
‘Do you want your children back?’
As Granger traveled to the border, she saw children crowded into makeshift shelters.
Hundreds slept on bus station floors; dozens crowded into rooms at military bases, sleeping in rooms with metal beds and metal lockers.
Volunteers work around the clock to feed and care for the children.
“It was a horrible situation,” she said.
When she and other congressional leaders visited Honduras and Guatemala recently, the first question they asked leaders there was, “Do you want your children back?”
“They were adamant, of course, that they want their children back,” Granger said. “So we wanted to know how we can help them with that.”
In Honduras, Granger saw makeshift shelters where children were already staying because of violence, including repeated shootings in the streets.
It was there, she said, where she learned that coyotes — people paid thousands of dollars to bring children and adults alike into the United States — were portraying themselves as similar to social workers. They even advertised on social media.
“They say they’ll help by taking the children to the United States,” she said. “Parents wanting to keep their children safe will let them go off with someone like that.”
And the number of people illegally crossing into the United States increased last year as the “coyotes sent out a message that if you send your children now, the United States won’t send them back,” Granger said, adding that officials have tried to counter that message on television and radio.
As thousands of children continue crossing the border, officials in Texas and other states have tried to find the best places to keep them.
The general cost is $200-$500 a day per child, but that can go up to $800 for children staying at military bases.
“The cost is enormous,” Granger said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said this month that about 2,000 of those children could be temporarily housed in Dallas County if plans underway are worked out. He has said he’s looking for schools that arenot being used, as well as other large buildings.
“It’s still warehousing kids,” Granger said. “Schools weren’t built for children to sleep there. They were built for children to learn there.”
Granger said Border Patrol officers are so overwhelmed with caring for the children they continue to find crossing into the U.S. that they can’t do their jobs.
“We have got to protect our borders better,” she said. “We [suggest] putting National Guard at the border to help … so we can get a handle on this. Also, take care of these children so that they are returned to their country and reunited with their families — if their families are still there — in a humane way.
“Let’s stop this and hopefully put in programs so this doesn’t happen again.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Working Group to address the crisis at the southern border, issued the following statement regarding the working group.
“The working group, appointed by Speaker Boehner to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, has made extraordinary progress in a short amount of time to understand the facts of the situation at the border, and develop sensible, humane, but tough recommendations on a course of action for Congress and the President to act on immediately.
“After personally visiting the Texas-Mexico border twice, traveling to Central America to meet with the Presidents of Honduras and Guatemala, and hearing directly from those involved in this crisis, there is no mistaking that the United States has a national security and humanitarian crisis at its southern border. This is not a political problem. This is an urgent crisis that must be dealt with immediately.
“The working group believes there are steps that can be taken to stop individuals, mostly women and children, from making the horrific trip from Central America to our southern border. Additionally, we must ensure that our border is secure and that unaccompanied minors are repatriated back to their home country in a swift and humane way, while ensuring proper protections are in place for the children who need them. I appreciate the legislative solutions being introduced by members of the working group and look forward to incorporating many of their ideas in our recommendations. It is my intention to provide the working group’s final report to the House GOP conference early next week when the House returns for legislative business.”Read More
FORT WORTH — The chairwoman of the GOP group studying the border crisis said Friday that a Dallas County plan to house up to 2,000 immigrant children who illegally entered the country is misguided.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said it wasn’t a good idea to place children in abandoned schools. And she said the goal should be to quickly send the children who aren’t victims of child trafficking and other heinous actions back to their countries of origin.
“I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Granger told KXAS-TV (NBC5). “I don’t think a school is set up to be a shelter or home for a child, even for a short time. We’re on the wrong track of planning on how to take care of the 58,000 children who have come here.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who offered the county’s help to deal with the influx of children from Central America, was quick to respond from vacation in Southern California.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, and everybody has a job to do,” Jenkins said. “Dallas County is doing our job to help these children. … It’s time for Congress to go back to work and do their jobs” and approve President Barack Obama’s request for funds to address the situation.
Since October, more than 57,000 children have entered the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They mostly turn themselves in, and the government is struggling to house them while following the legal process to determine their status.
Granger said she opposes Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency request to deal with the crisis. Among other things, she said, such spending anticipates keeping the immigrants here illegally for years, instead of the short period preferred by the study group of Republican House members that she leads.
Jenkins seemed to agree with the logic, though he supports the president’s request.
“The president’s plan to end the crisis includes money to build permanent refugee and relocation facilities,” Jenkins said. “Our Dallas County plan is a temporary, compassionate stopgap while the federal government builds permanent capacity and attempts to end the border crisis.”
But Friday, during a recording of Lone Star Politics with NBC5 and The Dallas Morning News, Granger said the children should not be placed too far from the border, since the goal should be quickly processing them through the system.
“We should keep them as close as possible,” she said. “Their countries had them and are better able to take care of them.”
Jenkins said he was pushing hard to begin housing up to 2,000 of the children at the end of the month.
Two of the facilities would be in the city of Dallas, the other in Grand Prairie.
Granger said the recommendations of the GOP study group should be ready next week. And she cautioned that plans to solve the current problems at the border should not be mixed with the ongoing debate over whether to overhaul the immigration system and create a path to citizenship for those who have been in the U.S. illegally for many years.
“It is a crisis,” Granger said. “It is not a decision on immigration reform.”
Democrats contend that the crisis was fueled in part by the failure to resolve the broken immigration system. Republicans counter that Obama’s 2012 order halting deportations for many young immigrants has helped fuel the notion in some countries that children might be able to stay in the U.S. after they arrive.
Jenkins said he hoped Granger would urge Congress to work with Obama in good faith.
“There may be many solutions, but partisan bickering and failure to act is not one of them,” he said.Read More
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A former teacher, small business owner and Mayor of Fort Worth, Congresswoman Kay Granger was first elected to represent the 12th congressional district of Texas in 1997. Earning a reputation for pragmatic leadership and serving as a powerful voice for Texas values, Kay fervently fights for the issues that matter most to Texas’ 12th congressional district and our country.
Since arriving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kay has distinguished herself as one of the most recognized and influential leaders on defense and foreign policy – an expertise she began developing as the Mayor of Fort Worth, which is home to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and Lockheed Martin. As a senior member of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, she has continually strengthened the 12th District’s contribution to America’s defense system and supported efforts to provide for our women and men in uniform – both on the battlefield and when they return home from combat.
In 2012, Kay stood with Governor Rick Perry and members of the 136th Airlift Wing of the Texas Air National Guard to fight a costly and unnecessary Air Force proposal that looked to move Texas’ prized C-130 squadron to Montana. To the Air Force, Texans, and the millions of Americans who depend on the C-130 aircraft to respond to natural disaster emergencies, Kay delivered a powerful message: C-130s will not be moved without a fight. Thanks to her work as well as that of Governor Perry, Senator Cornyn, Senator Hutchinson and the entire Texas delegation, the C-130’s stayed where they are needed and where they belong: Fort Worth.
Kay has long believed that national security and foreign policy go hand in hand. As the top Republican on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, she has worked to increase global stability and security as well enrich the lives of millions in the developing world through efforts that center on bettering global health, improving the lives of women and teaching emerging democracies how to sustain newly-discovered freedoms.
Kay is also a Majority Deputy Whip and serves on the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
In recognition of her achievements, Kay has received the Air Force Foundation Award and the Marine Corps’ Semper Fidelis Award. She has also been honored with the Tax Fighter Award by the National Tax Limitation Committee and the Spirit of Enterprise Award by the U.S. Chamber of Congress. Additionally, the National Association of Manufacturers has recognized her for her pro-growth, pro-worker voting record. For a full list of the awards she’s received, please click here.
Born in Greenville, TX, Kay was raised in Fort Worth. Majoring in education, Kay – a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution – graduated from Texas Wesleyan University and became a high school journalism and English teacher. In 1978, she opened her own insurance agency and operated it for over 20 years, leading her to become the first woman inducted into the Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame. In 1991, she was elected as the first female Mayor of Fort Worth where she cut crime by 49 percent and led the city to win the coveted All-American City Award. Kay, who attends the First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, is a mother of three and a proud grandmother to five.
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Myths and Facts: House Republican Border Crisis Supplemental Legislation http://t.co/FL0cpq7XsD
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Granger Statement on House Border Crisis Supplemental Package http://t.co/2aYZkY7V29
Thank you to all our summer interns for their great work this summer! If you are interested in interning in my Washington or Fort Worth office,
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My statement on the release of the House Border Crisis legislation: “This is a crisis that deserves decisive leadership from President Obama,
Yesterday, I presented to the House GOP Conference the recommendations of the Border Crisis working group. These recommendations reflect the
My interviews from Sunday on WFAA and NBC DFW regarding the border crisis and the House working group. WFAA Inside Texas Politics: http://youtu.be/NmzMgjWFbnY NBC