CHN: Congress Passes Emergency Border Aid after Disagreement among House Democrats

Last week the House passed and sent to President Trump a $4.59 billion emergency spending bill for the humanitarian crisis on the southern U.S. border. President Trump on July 1 signed the measure, which primarily consists of funds for food, shelter, medicine, and enforcement personnel.

The vote was a victory of sorts for the Trump Administration; the House had previously passed a different version of the bill, one which contained additional protections for unaccompanied minor immigrants, and restrictions on the Administration’s use of funds.

The legislation revealed a split between House progressives and centrist Democrats. The Senate had passed a bill with fewer protections for minor immigrants and fewer restrictions on the Trump Administration by a bipartisan 84-8 vote. House progressives favored their more sweeping measure, but the Trump Administration was vigorously opposed, and fears arose that if the House did not go along with the Senate version before the chambers adjourned for their week-long 4th of July recess, the legislation would stall and some agencies responsible for addressing the humanitarian crisis would run out of money at the end of June.

In the end, the House passed the Senate version of the emergency spending bill on a 305-102 vote. And it passed largely because of GOP votes – 176 Republicans voted yes, while seven Republicans voted no. Among Democrats, 129 members voted yes, while 95 members voted no.

In a letter to every member of Congress before the final vote, CHN expressed dismay over the failure of the Trump Administration to safeguard the immigrant children and adults in its care. The letter urged members to approve the funding, but also to pass many more protections for children and other immigrants, closer to the initial House bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had hoped to amend the Senate bill with changes that included a 90-day limit on how long children can spend in holding facilities; less funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency; and a provision to ensure lawmakers could visit facilities that hold children without prior notice. But Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration opposed these changes.

In the end, Pelosi decided to take up the Senate bill for a vote with no changes after an hour-long conversation with Vice President Pence. Pence did agree to administratively implement two changes sought by Pelosi – the 90-day limit on keeping children in holding facilities, and an agreement to notify Congress within 24 hours after the death of a child in custody.

“At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available,” Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues. “In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly support the Senate bill.”

The legislation includes $2.88 billion for the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, which cares for unaccompanied children. The spending bill also includes more than $200 million in funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and $110 million in overtime funding for DHS Customs and Border Protection employees, as well as money for the Pentagon and other agencies.

Meanwhile, immigrant advocates expressed outright alarm over reports that ICE soon would begin rounding up thousands of immigrants in ten U.S. cities who had court-ordered removal notices. The imminent raids, announced by President Trump in a tweet, were to begin Sunday, June 23, but Trump subsequently announced the raids would be delayed by two weeks.

CHN condemned the impending raids, saying in a statement that they “are the latest reminder that President Trump’s immigration policies are cruel and inhumane and not representative of the type of nation we aspire to be.”

disaster aid