House Democrats released their legislative proposal to address the growing humanitarian crisis on the southern border nearly two months after the initial aid request by the Trump Administration. H.R. 3401, introduced on June 21, is the Democrat’s counter-offer to the $4.5 billion request made by the administration.
This year has seen an almost 118 percent increase in border crossing apprehensions through the first five months compared to the same time frame in 2018. There have been three straight months with over 100,000 apprehensions.
That spike has caused the United States’ holding facilities to be overwhelmed and overcrowded, leading to unsatisfactory living conditions as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tries to manage the crisis.
The problem is so severe that just the other day nearly 300 children had to be removed from a holding facility in Clint, Texas because of the “appalling” living conditions. The facility was designed to hold less than half that amount.
On May 1, Office of Budget and Management (OMB) acting director Russ Vought sent a letter to Congress requesting $4.5 billion in funding to address what he called a “humanitarian and security crisis” at the border.
Since then, little has been done by House leadership to fulfill the Trump administration’s request.
Nearly a month and a half later — after little-to-no movement on the issue — Texas Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21) decided to try and force House leadership’s hand.
By objecting to every “unanimous consent” motion (a tactic Roy used in late May to force a recorded vote on a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill) and voice vote, Roy urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to approve the funding requested by the administration.
Last week it appeared the strategy had worked, at least as far as inducing a serious response from House Democrats on the issue. Pelosi committed to bringing up the border supplemental for a vote.
A few days later, Roy tweeted out his concerns with the Democrat’s proposed bill. One such concern was that “The Senate and House bills provide little to no funding for additional beds for adults or families.”
A significant portion of the Trump administration’s request is intended to address the lack of housing capability the Department of Homeland Security finds itself facing. For perspective, the month of May’s total apprehensions is roughly equivalent to the entire population of the city of McAllen.
About the Democrat bill, Roy also stated, “[It] provides no tangible resources for ICE — reducing even the Senate amount to $128.2 million total, none for personnel or beds.”
The Senate GOP is working on its own legislation on this issue, which Roy stated, “cuts White House funding request for ICE more than 50% — from $534.5 million to $204 million.”
As for the Democrat’s plan, the bill would provide $1.217 billion for operations and support — $60 million less than requested by OMB.
Also included is $85 million for construction and improvements of processing facilities; $128 million to ICE for things such as transportation for detainees and unaccompanied children, medical care, detention alternatives, and background investigations; $60 million toward food and shelter for aliens released from DHS custody; and $2.88 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for ‘‘Refugee and Entrant Assistance.’’
In a statement released yesterday, the Trump administration stated it “strongly opposes” House Democrat’s plan and threatened a veto unless policy changes are made.
Among their qualms is the bill’s failure to include “necessary funding” for ICE and the lack of “important funding for the equipment and courtroom space necessary” for illegal immigrant adjudication.
The administration also disapproves of various provisions in the bill which they say would “hinder the Administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws and protect children, block the Administration from modifying certain Health and Human Services (HHS) directives in order to prevent children from being placed in danger in the future,” and “risk requiring children to remain in DHS custody for longer periods of time.”
One amendment to H.R. 3401 offered by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX-26) provides $800 million to reimburse Texas for its costs incurred while trying to secure its border.
Last week, tired of the inaction by Congress, Governor Greg Abbott decided to send 1,000 extra troops to the border to help stem the flow of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States.
A vote on the border supplemental in the House is expected as early as today.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.