Congress works to provide emergency aid to migrants at southern border

“We just passed #HR1 and made history,” Rep, Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, posted to Facebook shortly after the vote. “‪Our government belongs to the people, not corporations or special interests.”

Hours after the U.S. Senate rejected the House’s $4.5 billion measure seeking to provide emergency aid and other services to migrants at the border, members of the Senate approved a $4.6 billion package of their own.

The Senate’s bill, which included funding for the Department of Defense and additional money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement that was not included in the House’s version, comes on the heels of multiple reports that sick and hungry children are being held at various facilities along the country’s southern border.

“We are living through a true humanitarian crisis at the border, where children and toddlers are being kept in completely inhumane and dangerous conditions,” Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, said in a statement Wednesday. “These procedures are a serious insult to our American values, which is why I voted for the House’s bipartisan bill, which includes clear care standards for these children, like basic medical, hygiene and nutrition requirements.”

Along with these standards, the House’s funding package also sought to place caps on how long unaccompanied children can stay in the border facilities and place standards of care on the government contractors who are responsible for supervising the migrant families, according to the bill’s text.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have gone on record to say the conditions are not as bad as they have been made out to seem, and Republicans — both nationally and here in the Santa Clarita Valley — have been critical of the House’s measure.

“I think it’s an emotional gesture that doesn’t fix the problem,” local Republican Joe Messina said in an interview Wednesday. “We’re going to keep coming up with this problem until they fix this with a real solution,” which is why Messina feels Congress should’ve given President Trump the funding to increase border security. 

“You no longer hear Democrats saying this is a made-up crisis like they were months ago when Trump was asking,” Messina said, adding, “I’m glad we’re trying to take care of the kids but this is an emotional play. This doesn’t fix anything. There’s nothing of substance, and I’d like to see them sit down and do a real comprehensive immigration bill that includes border security funding.”

Hill disagreed, stating: “I am hopeful the House and Senate can agree to include these standards and guarantee that we put a stop to the cruel and inexcusable treatment of these kids.”

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