With new reports of migrant children being held in facilities with inadequate food, water and sanitation along the Mexican border, Democrats on Friday finally unveiled a $4.5 billion plan to care for the surge of migrants being held by the U.S. Government, but it's not clear if Congress will act before the end of June as lawmakers get ready to leave town for a July Fourth break.
The bill from House Democrats was along the same lines as a $4.6 billion measure approved by a Senate panel on Wednesday - but there was no guarantee either measure would be voted on in coming days on Capitol Hill.
"This bill is a sensible compromise that reflects American values by promoting the just and humane treatment of migrants,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).
But Republicans said the lengthy delay from House Democrats in introducing a plan was unacceptable, coming over seven weeks after President Donald Trump officially asked for over $4 billion in humanitarian aid.
As the weekend arrived, the new bill from Democrats was not yet scheduled for a vote in the full House; in the GOP-led Senate, there was no date certain either for when a vote might take place on the extra money, as outside groups demanded immediate action.
Lawyers say 250 children are locked in a Customs and Border Protection station in Texas without adequate food, water and sanitation, and some have been there for as long as 27 days. @viacedar, @garanceburke @mendozamartha https://t.co/VIMGEJuPW4— The Associated Press (@AP) June 20, 2019
"Everyone is sick. Everyone." Advocates say immigrant children in federal custody are trying to take care of each other while living with inadequate food, water and sanitation. https://t.co/lyRVNaAigX— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) June 21, 2019
"In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity."— National Immigration Forum (@NatImmForum) June 21, 2019
An AP report has found increasing levels of systemic neglect and trauma in child immigrant detention centers near El Paso. https://t.co/I7SNSPO7aC
The bills from both the House and Senate are only about money - as they don't include any changes to immigration laws demanded by President Trump and GOP lawmakers in the Congress.
"But what the hell, let’s throw $4.5 billion at the problem with lots of perverse incentives to make the crisis worse, make no changes to laws, and wash our hands of it," tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who has criticized the lack of action by Democrats in the House. "That’ll do it!"
In a series of tweets, Roy said the extra money - while well intentioned - won't do anything to help in the long run.
"This is not the system we should have. This will not secure our nation," Roy said.
But the extra immigration law reforms desired by Roy - and demanded by the President - have not moved ahead in either the House or Senate.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, had wanted to press ahead on a bill to deal with immigration law changes, but delayed that on Wednesday, saying he was trying to work out a bipartisan agreement with the White House.
It's left both parties pointing the finger of blame at each other, with no guarantee of action even on money for humanitarian needs.
This is not the system we should have. This will not secure our nation. This will not truly help migrants seeking to come here beyond basic (again, welcome) supplies and resources to provide humanitarian relief. We should do better. (15/x)— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) June 21, 2019
Additionally Congress should work to pass legislation closing loopholes in our asylum system, increasing the number of immigration judges & providing expedited processing for asylum claims-so that those who don't qualify for asylum can be quickly returned to their home countries.— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) June 21, 2019
There are serious humanitarian needs at our border, & we all recognize the clear need to act. That is why today, Democrats introduced emergency border supplemental legislation to provide for the urgent needs of migrant families & children being held in shameful conditions. 1/3 https://t.co/lMVxqCMMOq— Congresswoman Lori Trahan (@RepLoriTrahan) June 21, 2019
While it is true that we have seen an increased number of families and unaccompanied minors crossing our border, what is also true is that the hard line tactics employed by this administration have created a crisis.— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) June 21, 2019
I prefer to see bipartisan progress to secure our border & address humanitarian concerns. Let's work WITH each other to solve this. Having ZERO interest in working with Republicans on this doesn't fix anything.— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) June 21, 2019
This legislation provides $4.5 billion in emergency spending to address the crisis at the border, & includes food, water, medical supplies & refugee services. It's time to put an end to the inhumane conditions at the southern border. I urge the Senate to pass this legislation.— John Garamendi (@RepGaramendi) June 21, 2019
With Congress as yet unable to act, the Governor of Texas on Friday authorized the dispatch of 1,000 National Guard soldiers to go help at the border.
"The crisis at our southern border is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before and has put an enormous strain on the existing resources we have in place," Gov. Greg Abbott said.
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