Rep. Michael Burgess Has a Horrible Plan for Dealing With Child Immigrants

Governor Rick Perry's sending the National Guard to the border may not be the best idea. Sending soldiers to perform law enforcement functions usually doesn't end well. That being said, at least there's a certain logic to it. Perry perceives the influx of undocumented kids crossing the border as a security issue, so he's throwing a thousand well-armed guardsmen into the mix.

Lewisville U.S. Repreprentative Michael Burgess' ideas about how to handle the same issue involve fewer guns and apparent ignorance of potential consequences. And math.

Burgess has introduced legislation that would slash $15,000 from U.S. aid to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala or Mexico each time an undocumented child from one of the countries was found to have entered the U.S.

"That's quite a policy," says Glen Biglaiser, a UNT political science professor and expert in U.S.-Latin American relations. "[Burgess] assumes that Central American countries can control their own borders. It seems a bit ironic that we would want to impose that policy when we are not so great at controlling our own borders."

Even if the countries could, devoting more resources to the border in order to keep U.S. aid will take money away from addressing the very issues that cause immigration in the first place, like crushing poverty and crime, Biglaiser says.

If you take a look at the numbers -- both of kids coming into the country and the amount of aid the U.S. provides their countries -- Burgess' plan becomes even harder to imagine.

Between October 2013 and May 2014, more than 13,000 Honduran children have been apprehended after crossing the border, according to the Pew Research Center. If Burgess' bill were law, the U.S. would be expected to deduct around $195,000,000 from its aid to Honduras because of those kids.

According to the U.S. plans to give Honduras $54.5 million in aid in 2014. Aid numbers consistently skew higher than projections, but not by nearly enough that Honduras could expect any U.S. aid were Burgess' proposal to become law. The same is true for El Salvador and Guatemala, while Mexico would receive about 15 percent of its planned assistance.

Randy Weber, a House member from Friendswood, introduced a similar bill earlier this month that would cut off all aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras until the countries made efforts to stop their youngest citizens from emigrating.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young