All five U.S. House members from Oklahoma, all Republicans, voted for legislation Friday night to address the tens of thousands of Central Americans _ many of them minors _ streaming across the nation’s southern border.
The Republican legislation would provide more money for temporary shelters and the judicial process for deporting the undocumented migrants or placing them in the United States. It would also amend a 2008 law to make it easier to deport minors from Central American countries.
President Barack Obama opposes the House legislation, which means it has no chance of becoming law. The Democratic-led Senate has its own funding bill for the border crisis but couldn’t advance it past Republican opposition on Thursday before leaving for a five-week recess.
Oklahoma Republican lawmakers commented on the House legislation after the votes late Friday:
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said, “Rather than throw money at a problem that the president’s failed policy created, the House today voted for a measure that covers immediate border security and humanitarian needs until the end of this year.”
Cole, whose district includes Fort Sill, which has been temporarily housing some of the minors, said he was pleased the House included his non-binding language declaring that military bases should not be used for that purpose.
“Ever since I learned of the border crisis and the president’s plan to use Fort Sill in my district for housing illegal minors, I’ve thought it was an inappropriate use of military facilities,’’ Cole said.
Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, “After hundreds of phone calls, emails and letters from Oklahomans over the past month asking me to immediately address the children housed at Fort Sill and to find a solution for the national security issues at our southern border, I strongly supported the House’s border bills …
“House Republicans took the first important step today toward a real solution to our border security issues by passing legislation to actually resolve ambiguities in the law and return unaccompanied migrant children to their home countries as soon as possible.”
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, said, “While President Obama wishes to spend billions of dollars to simply manage a humanitarian crisis of his own making, the House has offered a reasonable and serious solution today that strengthens border security resources and speeds up the process of safely returning these children to their home countries.”
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, said, “After a laborious process working through issues, we properly balanced U.S. national security and national sovereignty with humanitarian concerns. The House negotiated and ultimately passed good legislation. The House has acted to end this crisis. It is now time for Senator (Harry) Reid and President Obama to do their jobs.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, said, “As I’ve stated many times, I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t care for the safety and well-being of these children entering our country.
“But the President’s proposal keeps the status quo while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.
“We’ve put forth measures that immediately address the current border crisis at the source. Contrary to the President’s request, the majority of the funding in the House bill goes directly to border security agencies as well as increasing National Guard presence at the southern border.
“Additionally, it allows security forces to patrol federal areas to which Department of Interior had denied entry. This hundred mile stretch of land has been a serious weak point to our national security.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement Friday night blasting the Republican bill:
“Republicans in Washington have repeatedly called the situation at our border a crisis; yet, tonight they are considering partisan legislation that will not address the problem and is sure to be rejected by the Senate.
“As the President said today, the Administration will continue to manage the border as responsibly as possible and address our broken immigration system, but no Administrative action is a substitute for Congressional action.
“That’s why the President will urge Congress to fix our broken immigration system once and for all upon returning from their recess by doing what the Senate did over a year ago and pass serious, comprehensive immigration reform legislation with bipartisan support.”