Sen. Cornyn Reacts to Criticism of the HUMANE Act Bill Pending in Congress

By Dan Cadman on July 23, 2014

On July 21, National Review Online (NRO) published an article by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), responding to criticism of the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act by both the left and the right. (The HUMANE Act was filed jointly in both houses of Congress; in the Senate by Cornyn and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)).

Sen. Cornyn (R-TX)

I don't presume to know exactly what criticism from the left the Senator refers to – possibly Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) withdrawal of support for the HUMANE Act as a solution to the surge of people overwhelming border agents in the Rio Grande Valley. And I suspect that at least one of the criticisms from the right that the senator is responding to is an NRO article (published prior to the senator's) from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, entitled "A Non-Solution on Immigration".

The thing that caught my eye in the senator's retort was this statement:

Now, some on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about this legislation. On the right, they have said this bill would make it easier for illegal minors to achieve legal and asylum status. That is wrong. The HUMANE Act would not change current law with regard to either claim.

I cannot fathom how the senator makes that claim. Perhaps he has not read the bill in its entirety?

I am looking directly and specifically at subsections 103(a)(1) and (2), found on pp. 16-18 of the bill. Collectively, these provisions authorize an immigration judge to completely undo, through expungement, any prior order of deportation, and to immediately entertain a "special motion" from the unaccompanied juvenile (the definition of which has been expanded to include children who have relatives, including parents, in the United States) for admission and adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

The "discretion" accorded to the immigration judge to make such a decision? Look at lines 10-12 on p. 18 of the bill. A judge must grant the adjustment unless doing so would be "manifestly unjust".

To my way of thinking this constitutes an amnesty – "green cards" being, as it were, the gold standard on the "pathway to citizenship" – and an irresistible inducement to tens of thousands of other juveniles in the source countries (which would include Mexican minors by the terms of the bill) to attempt the journey northward.