On Tuesday, the Democrats of the House finally passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill. The bill contains amendments of a similar bill proposed in the Senate last week.
However, both chambers must agree on the same legislation for it be sent to the president’s desk, leaving just a few days before their upcoming deadline.
The bills are a response to President Trump’s request made on May 1st for additional aid and funding to be sent to programs and agencies that house, transport, feed, and manage a rising number of illegal migrants rushing to the US southern border from Central America.
Immigration numbers reached a 13-year high in May when over 132,000 people were apprehended and detained for crossing illegally into the US. And nearly 40% of those were unaccompanied children.
Since the beginning of the fiscal year, almost 51,000 of these children have been housed and cared for by the Department of Health and Human Services, a 60% increase since this time last year.
The agencies at the border are unprepared for these kinds of numbers, especially in children, who require much different care and housing than adults crossing the border. Space is limited, and so is the funding for their care.
Current funding for these agencies is expected to run out by the end of the month if help is not given. As it is, pay has been cut for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, as well as English classes, recreational activities, and legal services to children being detained.
However, Congress has been dragging their feet in making any decisions on the matter. Democrats feel that any border funding bill would only serve to give Trump exactly what he wants and, therefore, they have been reluctant to sign anything.
Last week’s reports of horrible conditions at overcrowded US Customs and Border Protection facilities that house detained children have finally given Democrats cause to be concerned and a push to get a bill passed.
Nearly 300 children were found housed in a facility with not enough space, nor adequate food and water.
Democrats of the House, outraged at such conditions, blame Trump for his poor handling of the situation. According to them, immigration should not be restricted in the least, and, therefore, migrants should not be detained nor discouraged.
However, since they cannot change those factors at the moment, they are willing to give a little for the sake of the children.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi states, “Our legislation is a vote against the cruel attitude toward children of this administration. This bill does not fund the administration’s failed mass detention policy. Instead, it funds effective, humane alternatives to detention that have a proven record of success.”
Do they not realize that if they had given aid shortly after this was asked for at the beginning of May, these poor conditions would not exist?
Money could have already been directed for adequate space, clothing, food, and water, as well as activities, schooling, and more for children and adults alike.
Funding would have also been given to those who care for these children, as well those who must oversee their asylum and legalities that go with the sometimes long and arduous process.
The House bill, primarily agreed to by Democrats, includes new health and safety standards for migrants, especially children, in US custody at the border.
It also sets a limit that migrant children can only be kept in intake shelters for 90 days unless notice is given. But then what? In addition, contractors that run the shelters must meet these new standards within the next six months, or they may lose their contracts.
Another amendment of the House legislation is to send funding to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help them in their efforts against migration.
Sure, let’s give aid to other countries, instead of trying to make our own better. But that is a common tactic for Democrats who seem to love every one other than Americans.
However, Republicans, while in favor of humane care of migrants and their children, do not agree with how some of this money is to be spent.
Instead, they favor a bill proposed by the Senate that will give $2.88 billion to the HHS for the care of children, $61 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in back and overtime pay, and $50 million more than the House bill to speed up the adjudication of asylum claims.