Will Congress Act on Border Crisis?

As Congress nears its August recess, Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar discuss whether Congress will take action on the immigration crisis.
6:44 | 07/27/14

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Transcript for Will Congress Act on Border Crisis?
Back now with our "Closer look" at the crisis on the southern border. The surge of unaccompanied children crossing into the country illegally continues. This week, we saw firsthand the dangers they face. Here's Jim Avila. Reporter: This week, we learned the thousands of unaccompanied my nors crossing the U.S. Border illegally are younger and more female. The pew research center saying the number of children crossing alone under 12 has more than doubled since 2013. The number of girls up 77%. This week, new ideas of how to stop them. From Texas. The National Guard. 1,000 to the border within a month in what governor Rick Perry is calling operation strong safety. We're asking the national Guard to be a force multiplier. Reporter: Critics call it operation symbolic act, since, by law, most agree, guardsmen can't arrest immigrants. The white house announced the number of unaccompanied children dropped by half from June to July. The president met with his counterparts from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, unveiling a new pilot program to offer some desperate families legal refugee status in the U.S. Without breaking laws. It would be better for them to be able to apply in country rather than take a dangerous journey. Reporter: An alternative for a limited number of central Americans. Who today often ride atop the dangerous freight train called the beast through Mexico. It was chronicled in our sister network fusion report. It included anchor Jorge ramoss' swim of the Rio grande. The current is strong. I still can't touch right now. Reporter: And his crawl through the tunnels. If they can make it, they'll be here safely. For awhile. Reporter: Congress is being asked to help end this crisis before the August vacation. For "This week," Jim Avila, ABC news, Washington. Thank you, Jim. Here now, two lawmakers who know the border intimately. Texas republican senator John Cornyn and democrat Henry Cuellar. Congressman Cuellar, I want to start with you. Your district has 200 miles of that border with Mexico. The white house said the flow of children crossing the border illegally has dropped dramatically in the last couple of weeks. Has the worst of this passed? We don't know. It's slowed down. We don't know if it's because of the work we have been doing with Mexico and central America. Or that it's seasonal. You're hitting the 100-plus degree weather right now. If you look at the history of people coming across, there are peaks and there are lows. And, you know, we have this situation, regardless, even if the flow has cut down. They're still coming over. We don't have anywhere to put the tens of thousands of kids that have crossed over and their families. Senator Cornyn. Congress has five days until you're about to go on a five-week recess. Can you really leave town without addressing this issue? It seems like the house of representatives is going to move a piece of legislation this week that will offer a solution. It will include something along the line of what Henry and I proposed. That will include a solution. What I'm worried about. It's a solution that the democrats still oppose? Senator Reid said he still opposes our proposed solution. My view is a solution beats no solution every day. Nobody has offered an alternative. I hope we'll act. Including money to help deal with these kids while they're here. I think the house will care for them, a skinnied down bill in terms of money. Couple it with a policy that will solve the problem. That sounds like what the house will pass. I hope the senate will take up and pass as women. Pass as well. And yet, congressman Cuellar. You have joined with senator Cornyn in a bipartisan approach. It includes changing the 2008 law that makes it different for the kids from central America and Mexico. Those coming from Mexico can go back immediately. Those from central America have to go through a whole different process. Yet you're virtually alone among democrats up there. Actually, the American public wants us to have an orderly border. Right now, they're not seeing that. They're seeing chaos at the border. Number one. Number two, keep in mind, on June 30th, the president sent a letter asking for money and a policy change. Secretary Johnson has done a real good job. He's been steady among the political pressure. He's stayed on. There are other democrats that do support this. But Nancy Pelosi, harry Reid, the democratic leaders, most of the rank and file, they're not running and joining you on this on the hill. Again, president Obama requested this at the beginning. Secretary Johnson has been good. But again, I represent the district. I don't just go down there once in awhile and see what's going on. I live there. 42,000 of the unaccompanied kids out of the 58,000 that have come through that small area. So, we're at the epicenter. We have been working with the men and women at the border patrol. The folks in the community have been dealing with this on a day-to-day basis. We need the resources and a policy change. On Friday, we heard, in Jim's piece, this idea of screening some of the children and their families, presumably, as well, in central America to see if they would be eligible for refugee status and bringing them into the United States legally. Hillary Clinton in an interview on fusion seemed to endorse this as well. We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, to screen kids. If we don't have a procedure, it won't stop. More kids are going to come. So senator Cornyn, what to you think of this idea? It's a standard procedure. If you want to seek refugee status, you can show up at an American consulate in country. That won't stop the magnet and the business model that the cartels have created to exploit this vulnerability in the 2008 law. This is making them a lot of money. It's subjecting the children and other immigrants to horrific conditions. As they travel from central America to south Texas. The vast majority won't be able to stay. We have no consequences associated with coming into the country outside of our legal system. And we need to return that. That's why this bipartisan legislation that Henry and I have offered offers a solution. We'll see if you can get something done before the recess. You're optimistic. We'll see if that comes through. Senator Cornyn, thank you. Congressman Cuellar, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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