Updated: U.S. House passes bill providing humanitarian aid funding for border crisis

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Immigration/Border, Policy

Update: Every Texas Democrat in the U.S. House voted in support of the $4.5 billion humanitarian aid package Tuesday night. The bill includes provisions mandating the humane treatment of migrant children.

Even during one of the most anti-immigrant presidencies in American history, the number of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. has been the highest in over a decade. Many are fleeing their violence-prone countries in Central America and as far away as Africa.

The surge of migrants is overwhelming the infrastructure at our southern border. We’ve all read the reports: 900 migrants jammed into one 125-person detention center in El Paso. Children being held in detention centers in Texas who don’t have toothbrushes, clean water, food, and proper health care. Young kids are dying. Border Patrol holding 15,000 people when they can only hold 4,000.

On Tuesday the U.S. House is expected to vote on a $4.5 billion emergency humanitarian aid package for these refugees. Many Democrats, however, are split on approving the money. Some are deeply concerned the Trump Administration will use the money for the president’s announced deportation raids and draconian immigration tactics. 

Others are more focused on the immediate situation. “Are there things I would like to change [in the aid package]? Absolutely,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso. “But we have a real crisis. We’re running out of time.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged her members to vote for the aid, acknowledging the deep distrust with Trump given his draconian immigration policy. The aid, she said, “does not fund the administration’s failed mass detention policy. As members of Congress and as Americans, we have a sacred moral responsibility to protect the human rights and the lives of vulnerable children and families.”

Other House Democrats and grassroots groups like Indivisible deeply oppose the aid package because it funds Customs and Border Protection and ICE, the agencies responsible for the squalid conditions migrants face in the first place. 

A House Homeland Security report made clear, the “U.S. Customs and Border Protection management has known for months to expect a higher-than-usual number of migrant families coming to our border to seek asylum – yet has done nothing to prioritize adequate, safe, and humane temporary holding facilities for those migrants.”

The White House on Monday threatened to veto the humanitarian aid package.

“By opposing detention beds—where illegal migrants are placed pending their removal—Democrat lawmakers are declaring their belief that illegal immigrants, including those who skip court hearings or commit additional crimes, should be allowed to remain in our country indefinitely,” the White House said in a nasty, hyper-partisan statement. 

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on its own aid package this week, prior to the week-long July fourth congressional holiday.

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