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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 9th, 2014
05:27 PM ET

Coburn: Fly undocumented kids back to their countries immediately

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Tom Coburn wants undocumented immigrants currently flooding the U.S. border sent back to their countries of origin immediately. That, he says, would send a strong message.

"The real solution is to treat other than Mexicans the same way we treat Mexican citizens when they come across the border," Coburn said. "Repatriate them immediately."

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 added protections for unaccompanied minors, especially those from non-contiguous countries, entering the U.S. illegally. As a result, the U.S. currently treats undocumented immigrants from neighboring countries Mexico and Canada differently than those from non-neighboring countries, like Honduras or Guatemala.

"You have to fix the real problem, and the real problem is we have a law that says border patrol can't hold them more than 72 hours, and they can't be repatriated automatically. We need to change that," Coburn said.

Organized crime rings in some Central American countries are "selling" the idea that they can get undocumented children to the U.S., says Coburn, a member of the Homeland Security Committee. "They're extracting large amounts of money and then abusing children as they carry them up here," he said.

"The best way to stop that is to have airplanes landing every day bringing these children back to their country of origin," said Coburn.

President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds for the immigration crisis, a move the senator slammed.

"For less than $20 million we can fly them all back first class. So think about how stupid our policy is," he said.

But the reality is that parents are often sending their children away from poverty and violence in these countries. The United Nations named Honduras the murder capital of the world – El Salvador and Guatamela are numbers four and five on the list.

Coburn said the violence in those countries has "not significantly changed in the last three or four years. So what's caused this change? It's been the signal that said you can come here, and you won't get sent back."

"We created an expectation that's wrong, and that's putting hundreds and thousands of children at risk," said Coburn.

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