Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental spending bill which provides $4.5 billion in emergency aid to address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Following the vote, Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
The humanitarian crisis at the border, which is causing grave harm to children, families, and the reputation of the United States in the world, is largely the result of malevolent neglect by the current administration. Rather than rising to the challenges of the moment and taking steps to responsibly tackle the root causes pushing children and families to seek protection in the United States, the administration has done everything in its power—and much that is in violation of the law—to increase chaos and disorder and promote cruelty and fear. Just this past weekend, we learned that children are being held for prolonged periods in inadequate facilities that lack basic things like food, soap, toothpaste, access to showers, and more. The government had the audacity to stand up in court to argue that unless these basic necessities are enumerated in law they need not be provided. This is unconscionable.
The supplemental funding bill passed by the House tonight contains important provisions requiring the administration to provide these basic protections for all children in custody, and more, and to provide a plan to ensure necessary language access for all people encountered by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel. The bill also takes the first meaningful step to crack down on the DHS’ repeated practice of using budgetary gimmicks to override congressional appropriations decisions.
While essential additions to the legislation, as we learn of ongoing abuses to children and other vulnerable people in custody being perpetrated in our names and with our tax dollars, we know we cannot stop here. Congress must go further and take action to provide enforceable, basic protections for these people and to hold the administration accountable. Congress must also remain vigilant that funding designed to protect kids is not used to separate families through raids, further expand the bloated and out-of-control detention system, or exacerbate further other harmful enforcement practices.
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