WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he can't envision a U.S. response to the border crisis that doesn't involving speeding up the process of returning unaccompanied Central American children home.
The comment by Boehner, R-Ohio, seemed to indicate that an acceleration of the pace in which the children are returned could be the price for GOP support of President Barack Obama's request for a $3.7 billion emergency package.
"I don't know how you can address the problem down there without looking" at changing a 2008 law which currently requires a lengthy hearing process before Central American children can be returned home, Boehner said.
"I don't know how Congress can send more money to the border to begin to mitigate the problem if you don't do something about the '08 law that's being abused, and it is being abused," he said.
Some top congressional Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and immigration rights groups, have expressed opposition to speeding up the return of such children, a process that can take months and even years.
Boehner also expressed some doubt about how Congress could quickly craft a package that responds to the problem. He said the problem needs to be addressed, but said Republicans have yet to decide what they'll do.
Asked whether legislation could be put together before lawmakers begin their August recess, Boehner said, "I would certainly hope so, but I don't have as much optimism as I'd like to have."