Updated Fri, Jul 18, 2014 4:40 pm
Republican Senator Rob Portman wants the United States to send a clear message to Central American countries as the federal government struggles to respond to the flood of children trying to enter the U.S. from the region.
Portman calls the flood of child migrants a humanitarian crisis. He said violence and poverty in Central America are part of the problem – but so is widespread misunderstanding of U.S. law.
So, he said, the U.S. needs to counter those ideas with a different message.
“We have an immigration system that does not permit, you know, kids to walk across the border, claim citizenship, and bring their families,” Portman said. “That’s not how it works.”
Portman said many migrants believe they will be able to stay in the country because they have false impressions of policies meant to protect sex trafficking victims, and ease life for young people already here.
The senator appeared at The City Club of Cleveland, where he was speaking about his anti-poverty agenda.
He said he also supports President Obama’s request for funding to deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis at the border, and some expansion of foreign aid.