Lawmakers weigh in on immigration as House passes bill

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - House Republicans passed a nearly $700 million bill addressing the current immigration crisis late Friday night.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived at the border since October, seeking refuge from ongoing violence in Central America.

The new bill would send those migrant youths back home without hearings and could threaten deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants working legally in the US.

Since the Senate is already recessed for summer break, the Associated Press reports the bill stands no chance of becoming law.

As lawmakers in Washington debated the issue Friday night, people in Battle Creek held vigil for the children affected.

Parents in the crowd told Newschannel 3 they can't imagine what life is like for those Central American kids: walking through deserts and alligator-infested rivers to get the Texas border, alone and with no food or water.

"If they're living under the threat of violence in areas where there's murder, kidnapping and rape, these are situations where, what else would they do to be able to have an opportunity?" says Kate Flores, executive director of Voices. "We need to think these are our children. What would we want for our children?"

Democrats accuse Republicans who passed this latest immigration bill of not trying to actually solve the problem. Some even call it "mean-spirited."

"Evangelical immigration table calls on us to ensure that our response strengthens our country's tradition of providing safety and refuge to the vulnerable," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says. "This legislation that we have before us does not do that. It is wrong."

During the debates on the House floor, Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana said, "This is important legislation that actually sends a strong message that we are going to take this issue seriously. We're going to actually solve this crisis. If the Senate wants to be serious about doing their job, if the President wants to be serious about doing his job, they ought to come back here and pass something of their own. But they won't."

Since the bill is not expected to go anywhere due to the Senate recess, President Obama says he plans to act on his own to address the border crisis.