Representative Steve King (R., Iowa), wants to alleviate the border crisis by allowing U.S. authorities to return to unaccompanied children to their home countries, something that current law bans except for cases of countries that share a border with the United States.
“This is a constitutional crisis,” King said while discussing Obama’s decision not to enforce immigration laws for children who would have qualified for citizenship had Congress passed the DREAM Act. “This is a president who doesn’t believe he is restrained by the Constitution. He is, to some degree, restrained by public opinion, which has significantly turned against him.”
King plans to introduce legislation U.S. law allows officials to send unaccompanied children back to their home countries, if those countries share a border with the United States; if their country of origin does not share a border, such as Guatemala, then they go through a different process.
That’s a “legitimate” legal constraint on President Obama as he responds to the current influx of kids, according to King, who says that Obama has a broader goal of “turning America into a sanctuary nation” — an allusion to the sanctuary cities that bar local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The provision of law that allows for children from contiguous countries to be sent home was championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in 2008, according to King, giving him hope that the language will pass into law.
“That’s the basis for what we’re writing,” King said, referring to the Pelosi-Feinstein legislation. The children would not be returned if their was danger of their being trafficked or persecuted in their home country, among other things. When they are returned, under the current process for children from contiguous countries, the process is “designed to protect children from severe forms of trafficking in persons.”
The law states that “no child shall be returned to the child’s country of nationality or of last habitual residence unless returned to appropriate employees or officials, including child welfare officials where available, of the accepting country’s government” and “no child shall be returned to the child’s country of nationality or of last habitual residence outside of reasonable business hours.”
That process is in place for children from Mexico, but not Guatemala. “That’s what we’re amending,” King said.
If Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) block legislative remedies, then “only the American people can stop him,” King said.
“We don’t have provisions in the Constitution to handle a president like this,” he said. “The final decision is going to be decided by the people, either in ballot box or in the streets.”