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Texans propose letting Border Patrol agents turn kids back

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:03 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Two Texas lawmakers announced legislation on Monday to speed removal of tens of thousands of Central American kids from the U.S.-Mexico border, as Washington searched for a solution to the growing crisis.

The bill by Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, would allow Border Patrol agents to turn many of the kids around quickly at the border. Under current law, the youths stay here while awaiting an eventual hearing in the backlogged immigration court system, something that can keep them in this country for years.

Of more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who've arrived at the border since October, only 1,254 had been returned home as of the end of June, according to a law enforcement official who spoke anonymously to discuss confidential data.

“Today's legislation strengthens current law protecting unaccompanied children and responds to the crisis,” Cuellar said in a statement.

The bill was announced as the White House is trying to get Congress to sign off on a $3.7 billion emergency spending request to deal with the situation at the border by adding more immigration judges and detention facilities, among other steps.

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