(CNSNews.com) - On the same day President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion dollars to deal with the crisis at the Southwest border, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called it "the wrong approach."
"Look, for $8 million, we can put them all on a first-class seat back to their homes. That's $8 million. That's a first-class seat, one way, to each of their homes," Coburn told CNN's "Crossfire" on Tuesday.
"That's $60,000 per child that we're going to spend, in emergency money. Can we -- first of all, that shows just how incompetent we -- we can't do that for $3(000) or $4,000 per child? That's No. 1.
"No. 2 is, if we can't do that, the Border Patrol is as bad as the V.A. And by the way, the vast majority of Border Patrol are not patrolling the border right now. They're involved in the humanitarian crisis."
Under a 2008 amendment authored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, children coming to the United States illegally from noncontiguous countries, including those in Central America, are given "humane and appropriate treatment" as well as free legal representation at their immigration hearings.
Coburn said the 2008 law has to be changed so that children from Central America are treated the same as those who come to the U.S. illegally from Mexico and Canada: "You're going to come in. You're going to be immunized. We're going to make sure that you weren't -- you weren't used as a scapegoat or human-trafficked. And then we're going to send you home."
Coburn said the 2008 Feinstein amendment could be reversed retroactively "in two weeks in the Senate and the House."
"I'm all for changing that law and sending them back," he said.
Coburn noted that the violence is not getting any worse in the countries that are exporting their children. "What changed was the expectation is that you could come here and you wouldn't be sent home," he said.
As for the $3.7 billion in emergency spending requested by President Obama, Coburn said he opposes it -- because it's "way too much money," and "because the money is going to be asked for again next year."
"Let's cut it in half," Coburn said. "Thirty thousand is (still) too much money to care for a child in a mass grouping and then place them. It's too much money."
Coburn also said that a very low percentage of children will show up for their deportation hearing.
"Once they move out of the detention center and they go to family or other friends or other relatives or whoever, less than 3 percent will show up for their hearing. So they're in the country. They won't be deported. And that's what has people riled."