Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is spearheading a legislative approach to the border crisis, one that he says will result in far more deportations in less time and slam the door shut on the Obama administration’s ability to use its own discretion in enforcing existing laws.
The plan calls for expediting the deportation process, greatly reducing the grounds for asylum in the U.S. and requiring those in violation of immigration laws to be detained until they are sent home.
The senator also said his bill, S. 2632, is far more aggressive than the bipartisan plan sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, which also promises to speed up the processing of those in the country illegally.
“(There are) two main differences,” Vitter said. “First of all, we raise the standard for anything like an asylum claim. They do not. Secondly, we absolutely ensure that these illegals are detained and not given over to anyone, like family members, until they’re deported out of the country, assuming that’s appropriate. They do not.”
Vitter said his legislation also gives the president far less wiggle room in using the law to advance his political agenda. He said he doesn’t trust the administration to enforce the law, so he believes tying its hands through this new legislation would also be an improvement.
“Quite frankly, I don’t trust the administration with regard to enforcement in general, and that’s why my bill doesn’t give them room to maneuver. It doesn’t leave much, if anything, to their discretion. That’s another big difference between our legislation and some other alternatives out there in Congress, even among Republicans,” he said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Sen. David Vitter, R-La.:
What needs to change in our border policy is not particularly complicated, according to Vitter. He said there are certain things that obviously need to change to stem the current tide of people illegally crossing the border and dissuade others from coming in the future.
"We need to detain these illegals and not let them go and not release them into American society but quickly and efficiently deport them to their home countries," Vitter said. "Way too many of these illegals coming in are basically caught and released to family members in the country, many of them illegal. The great majority of those are never heard from again. They're given a court date and a 'pretty please' note to show up in court. In a great majority of cases, that never happens."
Another headache for Border Patrol officers and other officials dealing with the border surge is the vast number of people issuing rehearsed pleas for asylum. Vitter said the approach to that would change through his bill as well.
"There will be a very, very small percentage who have a real sort of asylum claim," he said. "We also strengthened the standard so that people can't just lie their way through that."
Vitter added, "You have to do more than just say a few magic words. Part of the problem now is folks quickly learn what magic words or vague claims they have to make to possibly have that argument. We raise the standard, make it more stringent and meaningful, so that they have to have a lot more detail or documentation about these sorts of issues."
Genuine war refugees and victims of sex trafficking, among others, can still find safe haven in the U.S. under Vitter's plan. However, he said there is a specific standard that must be met to be allowed to stay.
"Is it clear when they go back to their home country that they are going to be in a completely untenable situation. That doesn't mean, 'Are there problems in their home country? Is there poverty in their home country?' Of course, that's been the case forever, and it's going to continue to be the case for awhile, unfortunately," Vitter said.
Democrats regularly reject such an approach, arguing that the moral thing to do is help these people, many of them children, who are desperate for a better life. Vitter said the current policy is having exactly the opposite effect of that stated goal.
"Right now we have a policy that causes that humanitarian crisis to grow, to get worse, more minors being put into the hands of more criminal gangs, coyotes, dangerous people who often times who often times abuse these minors. It's not a humanitarian policy if that policy is causing that to continue and to grow," he said.
Within the past few days, Texas officials started to cast doubt on the media narrative that the vast majority of the unaccompanied minors are small children, going so far as to estimate 80-85 percent are teenagers and many of those affiliated with gangs.
Does Vitter believe the media are getting the story right?
"No I don't, because I think they, for the most part, convey the story line that these are all tiny kids," he said. "They're not. It's much more of a mixed bag. It depends on what media reporting you look at. I think the more accurate picture is slowly getting out."
That said, the senator insists the government needs to treat everyone with respect.
"We need to treat them all carefully and humanely," Vitter said. "The question is, what do we do with them? We need to detain them and then quickly deport them. That's what's going to stop this flow from continuing and continuing to grow."
In addition to the impact on the border states, Vitter said this crisis impacts every other state as long as the government is actively handing off illegal immigrants to sponsors here in the U.S. He is aware of 1,200 cases in Louisiana alone since this crisis began.
But what are the political odds, and how is the bill being received by lawmakers?
"Great support on Capitol Hill, even greater support in America," Vitter said. "I think it's galvanizing the American people around the common-sense notion that we need to do something meaningful in quickly, effectively deporting these folks back to their home country."
However, just as Democratic control of the U.S. Senate stymies the GOP on other issues, Vitter's bill will struggle to reach the floor.
Nonetheless, he remains hopeful.
"Harry Reid seems determined to just take up a spending bill that's basically given President Obama a big chunk of money, mostly to house and feed these illegal aliens, not to fix the problem," he said. "That isn't going to go anywhere. I hope when that doesn't go anywhere that opens up the debate and we look at real enforcement measures that can make a difference."