On Tuesday, bipartisan Senate negotiators reached an agreement on a spending bill requested by President Trump that will give $4.5 billion in funding to aid in the immigration influx seen at the US-Mexico border. Without this bill, agencies are expected to run out of money by the end of the month.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman and Republican Richard Shelby and Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy have met several times this past weekend to come to an agreement that would benefit everyone involved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pushed for a settlement and said he would force a vote next week if a deal hadn’t been made by Wednesday.
The deal will be given to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, and once, it passes, as it is expected to, it will be sent to the Senate floor with the hopes that it will be put to a vote before Congress is released for the 4th of July recess.
The deal agreed upon by Leahy and Shelby includes $2.9 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services for humanitarian aid such as the care of unaccompanied migrant minors and to increase shelter space. The rest of the funding will be divided between several other agencies such as the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense. These funds will provide aid for things like more investigation resources and more detention beds and space.
The Trump administration has been asking for these funds for several months now in response to the growing number of arrested and detained migrants coming across the US southern border. More than 144,000 illegals were apprehended in May alone, reaching the highest immigration levels in more than a dozen years. What makes the situation even more drastic is that nearly 40% of those detained are unaccompanied children.
US federal law requires border officials to detain children in separate and more permanent locations than the border jails where adults are held. Also, these children are given legal services, educational classes, and even recreational activities during their time in US custody, as well as all of their essential needs.
Extra funding is needed to properly give shelter and care to the ever-rising number of migrant children along the southern border, and it is running out very quickly.
However, Congress has seemed to drag its heels in deciding due to partisan divisions.
While Democrats say they support the humanitarian needed at the southern border, they are unwilling or at the very least hesitant to make a deal that would give aid to Trump’s immigration and border policies.
According to McConnell, “The president seemed to me to be getting more cooperation from Mexico than he is from congressional Democrats on dealing with the crisis at the border.” He also stated, “Let me say again, this is not wall funding. This is a humanitarian crisis of gargantuan proportions. It needs to be dealt with.”
However, the deal does not include the House, which may vote on its own version of the emergency spending bill next week. In the House, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are not very fond of some specific elements of the law. Therefore, it is uncertain if it will pass or not.
“We’re just getting the information we need to make an assessment of the legislation,” the caucus’ chairman, Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), said Tuesday night. “We very much want to help alleviate the humanitarian situation at the border. Yet all DHS funding requests must now be scrutinized in light of President Trump’s declaration of mass immigration raids by ICE starting next week.”
If it does pass, Congress would only have a few days to decide upon a final agreement before the upcoming national holiday and its recess, after which the current funding will run out, and much-needed services may have to be eliminated.