Democrats' Border Crisis Funding Package (Passed House)
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After the House passed this legislation on a mostly party-line 230-195 vote on Tuesday night, it failed in the Senate on a 37-55 vote Wednesday afternoon. The Senate then amended the bill (H.R. 3401) with its own bipartisan funding package, so we've transferred our summary of the original House bill here.
What is House Bill H.R. 3401?
This bill would provide $4.5 billion in funding to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the Southern border. It would provide funding for the care of migrants and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in detention centers, increase oversight, and prevent the diversion of funds from other programs to cope with the influx of migrants. A detailed breakdown of this bill’s provisions can be found below.
Within the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would receive a total of $1.302 billion, including the following:
- $787.5 million for soft-side and modular facilities to alleviate severe overcrowding in CBP custody, plus $8 million for security at such facilities.
- $112 million for migrant medical care and consumable goods such as clothing, baby formula, hygiene products, and other essential items.
- $90.6 million for temporary duty & overtime costs for CBP staff.
- $50 million to improve immigration data systems and tools.
- $35 million for transportation of migrants between facilities.
- $200 million for an integrated, multi-agency processing center pilot program for families and UACs, with participation by non-profit organizations.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would receive:
- $48 million for the transportation of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) and migrants among facilities.
- $45 million for detainee medical care.
- $20 million for alternatives to detention.
- $10.2 million for background investigations and facilities inspections by the Office of Professional Responsibility.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would receive $60 million to reimburse states, local governments, and non-governmental organizations for care of homeless migrants.
Other provisions of this section would:
- Stipulate that funding provided under this bill can only be used for the purpose it’s provided.
- Extend the authorization of a portion of DHS’ research & development authority.
- Establish policies and guidance related to the Migrant Protection Protocols (Return to Mexico) program.
- Establish procedures and training programs to ensure CBP facilities comply with the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search.
- Require DHS to certify that the number of CBP officers assigned to the Northern border is at least the number assigned under the June 12, 2018 DHS Northern Border Strategy.
Health & Human Services
This section would provide $2.88 billion for the Dept. of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program to cope with a 60% increase in the number of UACs detained over the last year. It’d allow HHS to resume offering a full range of services for children in their care and prevent the diversion of funds from other DHS programs.
It would also include the following provisions aimed at ensuring the safety and welfare of UACs in HHS custody:
- HHS would receive dedicated funding to expand its traditional state-licensed shelter capacity, post-release services to ensure children’s well-being, and the Office of Inspector General to expand its oversight of the UAC program.
- HHS would have to maintain directives in effect since December which aim to accelerate the identification and approval of sponsors for UACs to receive funding.
- Sponsors and potential sponsors of UACs would be protected from DHS immigration enforcement based on information collected by HHS during the sponsors vetting process.
- The prioritization of community-based residential care and licensed facilities over large facilities.
- HHS would be prohibited from placing UACs in an unlicensed influx facility if the child is under 13; doesn’t speak English or Spanish; has special needs; is pregnant or parenting; would have a diminution of legal services as a result of the transfer; or if the child isn’t expected to be placed expeditiously with a sponsor.
- HHS would have to make monthly reports to Congress about UACs who were separated from their parents or legal guardians.
- HHS would be required to submit a spending plan within 30 days and every 60 days thereafter.
- HHS would have to report to Congress within 24 hours if an UAC dies in custody.
- Influx shelters would only be used as a last resort, meet child welfare standards, and include frequent monitoring. A 15-day notification period would be required prior to opening an influx facility.
- Senators and members of Congress would have access to shelters for oversight purposes without a prior notice requirement.
This section would provide $615 million to the Legal Orientation Program to educate detainees about the immigration court process and thus expedite immigration court proceedings.
It would also provide $155 million to the U.S. Marshals Service for emergency expenditures related to the housing, transportation, and care of federal immigration detainees.
Detained migrants; immigration courts; DOJ; HHS; DOD; and DHS.
Argument In Favor
House Democrats’ bill to address the humanitarian crisis contains many bipartisan solutions that provide federal agencies the resources they need to cope with the spike in border apprehensions while protecting migrants’ dignity & holding the Trump administration accountable.
This bill tries to deliver an impossibly partisan solution to the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border. It doesn’t provide enough resources to immigration courts to process claims, meaning that migrants will have to remain in detention centers longer while their cases play out.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3401
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $4.543 billion in the FY2019.
In-Depth: House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced this bill to provide emergency resources for humanitarian assistance and security at the Southern border:
“There are serious humanitarian needs at the border, and we all recognize the clear need to act. This legislation would address the humanitarian crisis in a way that balances the needs at the border with the imperative to hold the administration accountable. Just as important, it would provide robust humanitarian funding and necessary oversight protections to protect the rights and dignity of migrants. This legislation is a critical step to meeting the urgent needs of migrant families and children at the border, and I urge the Senate to consider it without delay.”
The House Appropriations Committee didn’t take a vote on advancing this bill to the floor.
Of Note: May 2019 marked the highest monthly total of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border since 2006, the majority of whom came in as family units or as unaccompanied minors.
- House Appropriations Committee Press Release
- House Appropriations Committee Summary
- House Appropriations Committee Comparison to Senate Bill
- CBO Cost Estimate
- Countable (Context)
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / TriggerPhoto)
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019
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