House Speaker John Boehner pinned ownership of the escalating humanitarian crisis at the southern border squarely on President Obama, complaining today that the president's immigration policies have encouraged migrants to stream across our border.
Boehner contended that throughout his presidency, Obama has given migrants "false hope" that if they enter the country illegally, they would be allowed to stay.
"This is a problem of the president's own making!" Boehner, R-Ohio, exclaimed to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol today. "He has been president for five and half years. When is he going to take responsibility for something?"
While Congress considers the White House's $4.3 billion supplemental request, of which $3.7 billion is earmarked for the southern border, lawmakers are also debating whether to revise a 2008 law that says the unaccompanied children cannot be sent back to their native countries. Unaccompanied children must instead be held humanely by the Department of Health and Human Services until the courts release them to a "suitable family member" in the United States.
Boehner said Republicans "would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico," which would quickly return children migrating from other Central American countries to their native countries.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, said she would prefer to see the language regarding Mexico's migrants altered to the language pertaining to migrants from non-contiguous countries.
"If they wanted to make it uniform, I would have rather they treated the Mexican kids the way they treated the…non-contiguous country kids," Pelosi said. "Really, what's important is to get the supplemental. What price we have to pay to do that, we'll see in the course of the debate."
"When it comes to children, from my standpoint, I'm like a lioness," Pelosi proclaimed. "Don't mess with the children, OK? You want to talk about contiguous or non-contiguous, talk about it all day, but give us the money to deal with it."
As for the supplemental request, Boehner said he believes the House should act before the August recess, but said lawmakers are still working to determine what action the lower chamber could take.
"I can tell you this, though. We're not giving the president a blank check," Boehner said. "Beyond that, we'll await further discussions with our members before we make any final decisions."