A meeting hosted by Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) failed to unite the Republican conference behind a legislative response to the influx of Central American children at the southern border of the United States.
“The effort to try to coalesce around one piece of legislation totally fell apart,” a Senate aide familiar with the events of the Thursday evening meeting told National Review Online. “You’re just not going to get a large number of Republicans behind any one bill.”
Some senators dislike the policy proposals, others oppose tying the policy fix to supplemental funding for the border, and some hesitate to take responsibility for a problem they view as caused by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the aide.
“I’ve strongly conveyed to my colleagues that it’s our lax enforcement of immigration laws that has encouraged more immigrants to come here illegally,” Senator David Vitter (R., La.) said in a statement to NRO in response to questions about the meeting.
“That’s exactly why we’re seeing the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at our southern border,” he said. “We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration. I’ve said that if we want to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, let’s deport these people by the planeload.”
Many Senate Republicans believe Obama already has the funding and the legal authority necessary to resolve the problem, according to the aide.
“There is very much consensus on who is responsible for the crisis, and that’s the president, and that’s where the message should be,” the aide said.