Five Facts The Humanitarian Package For The Border Crisis

Five Facts The Humanitarian Package For The Border Crisis

Recently, the House of Representatives’ Problem Solvers Caucus came together to help Congress pass a $4.6 billion bill to provide humanitarian aid for asylum seekers entering the U.S. through the southern border. The bill is expected to be signed by President Trump; it includes more than $1 billion to house and feed migrants and close to $3 billion to care for unaccompanied minors. Prior to the bill passing, there was discord among Democrats on whether the money allocated will be spent properly and if it does enough to improve how migrants are treated in government custody. In the end, 33 Democratic Senators and 129 Democratic Congressmen voted for the bill, which was co-authored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL). Sen. Leahy, who flew from Paris to begin negotiations, called the bill “a good compromise,” one that does not have poison pills.

Here are five facts on the new humanitarian package.

1. House lawmakers felt increased urgency to pass this humanitarian packagebecause of the intense financial strain many federal agencies currently face. In June, Buzzfeed reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is running out of money to take care of undocumented minors crossing the border (the agency was looking after nearly 13,000 minors in its facilities as of April). When the bill was passed, Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said he would put the money to use before funding ran out.

2. Progressive and Hispanic Democrats pushed to add additional protections for children in government custody and more conditions for the administration in how the funds would be used. However, these requests put passing any legislation at risk. The White House and Senate both said they would not accept changes. Moreover, the Problem Solvers were concerned that cutting funding for immigration enforcement would make it harder to police sex trafficking.

3. In the middle of the debates, the Problem Solvers issued a statement calling for the House to pass the Senate bill, according to the New York Times. The caucus, which includes 23 Democrats and 23 Republicans, was concerned that Congress would begin its July 4 recess without passing any legislation. This would leave children at the border without much-needed resources. The Caucus ultimately announced it would block the vote on a new House version, leaving the House no choice but to pass the Senate version of the bill.

4. Simultaneously, the Senate passed its own version of the $4.6 billion humanitarian package in an 84-8 vote. NPR highlights that the Senate’s bill includes funding for the Department of Defense and Immigration and Customs Enforcement not included in the bill passed by the House. NBC News reported that the bill does not change immigration law or policy, nor does it provide funds for President Trump’s border wall.

5. The quick passing of the humanitarian bill highlights the strength of Congress’ moderate lawmakers, a group whose influence has often been overlooked. It also underscores the stark divide that exists within the Democratic party and that Congress has the ability to act quickly when pressured by the public (in this case, a photo of a father and daughter who drowned escaping Central America sparked action).