The Progress Report | ThinkProgress

A growing humanitarian situation at the Mexico-U.S. border, with tens of thousands of children fleeing violence and organized criminal activity in Central America to the U.S. and neighboring countries, has brought immigration to the forefront of the political conversation again, highlighting both the need for immediate action and long-term reform. Tens of thousands of children and families have come across the border recently, leaving immigration officials with overcrowded detention facilities and little capacity to process them.

President Obama has issued a request for Congress to provide $3.7 billion in emergency funds to care for and speed up the repatriation of the more than 57,000 children. Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have all either visited Central America or the border to assess the crisis.

Meanwhile, too many Republicans are exploiting child refugees to score political points. Gov. Rick Perry, after meeting with Obama in Texas last week, asked “I don’t know whether [Obama's] inept, or there’s something else going on.” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) went even farther, going on a diatribe against the migrant children and urging Texas to unilaterally declare war. Here’s what he said:

Even with $3.7 billion that’s requested, there’s no way for what’s being called for is going to stop the invasion that’s occurring. That’s why I’m hoping that my governor will utilize Article 1, Section 10, that allows a state that is being invaded — in our case more than twice as many just in recent months, more than twice as many than invaded France on D-Day with a doubling of that coming en route, on their way here now under Article 1, Section 10, the state of Texas would appear to have the right, not only to use whatever means, whether it’s troops, even using ships of war, even exacting a tax on interstate commerce that wouldn’t normally be allowed to have or utilize, they’d be entitled in order to pay to stop the invasion.

Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution provides that “[n]o state shall, without the consent of Congress, . . . engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” We are not talking about war. We are talking about children—many younger than 10—who have experienced horrible conditions in their home countries and on the journey, and who are alone and scared.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) stressed this point and called out the xenophobia in this debate yesterday: “There is American exceptionalism, I believe in it,” Gutierrez said. “I say we are the strongest, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, and children are coming to our borders, we should protect them.”

BOTTOM LINE: We need to show compassion and take care of these children who have traveled thousands of miles from three of the most dangerous countries in the world. They deserve a hearing to determine if their claims are valid, and we should treat them humanely throughout that process, while sending resources to expedite it. Meanwhile, House Republicans must take responsibility to fix the long-term issue of a broken immigration system and stop refusing to vote on the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate a year ago.