With pressure mounting to financially address the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican-led Senate bill that would spend $4.6 billion to manage the situation.
The bill is intended to provide funding for adequate shelter and care for children in custody, hiring more immigration judges and funding military operations on the border.
President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conceded most of the House backed a measure that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. The final 305-102 House vote found most Republicans joining with a majority of Democrats to pass the bill.
Arizona’s Capitol Hill delegation reflected that unusual legislative alliance.
The Senate voted 84-4 Wednesday to pass the bill.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., both supported the bill, and both have called for stepped-up border security and resources from the federal government to aid the groups and communities at the front lines of the crisis.
Sinema touted her advocacy to help ensure the measure included funding to bolster immigration judges as well as a requirement that the Government Accountability Office author a report intended to help speed up the asylum claim process.
Sinema also advocated for additional funding for organizations that are helping with the crisis on the border, crucial for the groups that are on the ground, her office said.
“I am working across the aisle to stop the flow of migrants, ensure the fair and humane treatment of migrants currently here, and boost resources so migrants who do not qualify to stay in America quickly return home,” Sinema’s written statement said.
McSally said in a written statement that the package will get law-enforcement officials and “frontline agents” the funding they need to respond to the crisis.
“These resources are required to ensure the safety and humane treatment of people without further depleting the mission to secure the border and facilitate legal cross-border commerce,” she said.
The House has finally given up their frivolous charade & passed the Senate bill to aid humanitarian crisis at the Southern border. This fix is a band aid, but CBP needs immediate assistance to treat those crossing our border humanely & professionally while securing our border.
7:14 PM – Jun 27, 2019
McSally tweeted Thursday she hopes to see Congress pass legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would close what she calls “legal loopholes” in the asylum system. McSally argues those loopholes encourage migrants to come illegally and then to fraudulently ask for asylum, knowing those with children will be quickly released and then allowed to remain in the U.S. for years while their asylum cases are pending in swamped immigration courts.
On Thursday, Pelosi bowed to pressure from centrist Democrats and Republicans and pulled back efforts to advance a different funding package.
Instead, she let the House vote on the Senate bill in a move that angered progressives.
Arizona’s House delegation voted 5-4 in favor of the legislation, but in an unusual mix.
Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton joined with Republican Reps. Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert to help pass it.
Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego and Raul Grijalva, along with Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, voted against the bill.
Grijalva and Gallego said the measure was insufficient to combat the humanitarian crisis at the border.
“We have a responsibility to stand up against the human rights abuses that the Trump administration is carrying out against the families and children in our government’s care,” Gallego said in a statement. “This bill does not do that, and I can not support it.”
Grijalva said he would not condone the “unconscionable and immoral” act of funding a crisis he deems as engineered by the Trump administration.
“A real solution would provide full funding for alternatives to detention, ensure families can never be separated and hold the administration accountable for their ongoing betrayal of American values,” Grijalva said in a written statement.
Biggs said the bill fell short in its funding for law enforcement. Congress should be focused on passing laws that reduce the incentives for migrants to come to the U.S., he said.
“Congress could have done much more to solve this crisis, and the Senate’s draft will not be the cure that solves the crisis on our southern border,” Biggs said in a written statement.
But Lesko said the measure provided long-overdue needed aid.
“After more than 80 requests, I am glad that Republicans were finally able to convince Speaker Pelosi to let us vote for a humanitarian aid package originally requested on May 1st by President Trump,” she said. “Now I hope we can convince Speaker Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues to join Republicans in reforming our loose immigration laws, so we can solve the root of the problem and end the border crisis once and for all.”
Included in the spending package is $30 million to reimburse states and local governments for expenses tied to the surge of migrants, and money to pay for human trafficking operations and for travel and overtime costs for personnel.
The emergency funding comes amid the mounting furor over reports of maltreatment of children and infants at a detention facility in Texas, and in the aftermath of the graphic image of a migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande trying to get to the U.S.