Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn says he has a much better solution to fix the problem presented by tens of thousands of illegal Central American immigrants that have been apprehended at the southern U.S. border.
“Look, for $8 million you could put them all on a first-class seat back to their homes,” Coburn said on CNN’s “Crossfire” on Tuesday.
Coburn was answering a line of questioning concerning the Obama administration’s announcement on Tuesday that it would be asking Congress for $3.7 billion to help deal with the 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 mothers with children who have been apprehended since Oct. 1.
The influx has drained resources from border protection and immigration agencies, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.
The administration’s plan to increase spending is “the wrong approach,” Coburn said.
He rebutted a claim made by many Democrats and administration officials that the immigrants are flocking here — mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — to flee rampant violence in those countries.
“This isn’t about violence. Some of it is,” Coburn said, while pointing out that violence has not changed significantly in two of the three countries, and has actually fallen in one.
Rather, the administration’s immigration policies are leading them to believe they can stay in the U.S.
“What changed was the expectation that you could come here, and you wouldn’t be sent home,” Coburn said.
The Obama administration has adopted a policy of deporting only violent criminals. It has also enacted a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides amnesty to people who arrived to the U.S. as children.
Coburn also supported the reversal of a 2008 anti-sex trafficking law that requires Customs and Border Protection to hand unaccompanied children from countries that do not border the U.S. to the Department of Health and Human Services, which houses them and seeks to place them with sponsors while they await deportation proceedings.
“What we have to do is change the 2008 law, and say, if you’re not contiguous with us, we’re going to treat you just like you were contiguous with us,” Coburn told CNN.
“We can change that in two weeks in the Senate and the House. Just reverse that law, retroactively.”
Asked if he opposes Obama’s $3.7 billion funding proposal — which was nearly double the administration’s initial $2 billion request — Coburn said he does.
“I’m opposing that money because the money’s going to be asked for again next year,” he said.
Coburn also commented on public opposition to Obama’s stance on immigration, saying that resentment towards the administration’s policies is aimed at a deeper issue.
“It’s not immigration,” said Coburn. “It’s that they don’t see our government enforcing our laws.”