Thousands of young Central Americans presenting themselves at the American border with Mexico are becoming the responsibility of the United States.
While Rhode Island's Democratic congressional delegation is calling for comprehensive immigration reform, they all say the country can't turn the children away.
"These are children. We have to treat them accordingly. They need to be afforded a process that's in place to be sure they are screened properly, that determinations are made: are they eligible for asylum, refugee status, etc.? There's a process in place, we ought to make sure that they are treated humanely," U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said.
But Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson -- a Republican -- said that's not humane.
"What's inhumane is encouraging them to take that 1,000-mile trek. And children being raped, and kids being mutilated coming along the way with these coyotes who are part of the cartel," Hodgson said. (Coyotes are people who facilitate the smuggling of people across the border.)
Hodgson spent five days on the border with other American sheriffs to see the situation first-hand. He said he came away with disgust at what American policies have created.
Hodgson said the best the best thing to do is to end the flood of refugees by sending them home.
"Tell the families back in Honduras, in El Salvador and so forth that if you send your kid and you pay $5,000 to $7,000 to get them here, well, they're going to get turned around right away, it's not worth it, and you'll save them the trauma of going through being raped or brutalized or maimed or even killed," Hodgson said.
Hodgson said he'd like to get the other sheriffs alongside him at a Washington hearing to educate lawmakers about what's happening at the border.