Top Democrats in Congress have acquiesced to some of the administration’s request for billions in southern border aid, but the offer comes with notable limitations.
As lawmakers continue to negotiate over a humanitarian relief package, Democrats have offered to include a portion of President Donald Trump’s $4.5 billion request for emergency border spending, according to Democratic leaders and aides. However, Democrats say they will not agree to more money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or additional detention beds.
“Democrats refuse to give this administration a blank check, which is why we are insisting on oversight provisions that will protect the dignity and rights of migrants,” a Democratic aide said, according to The Hill. Instead, Democrats want funds directed to the Office of Refugee and Resettlement, the office within Health and Human Services that has handled the thousands of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) arriving at the southern border.
“Democrats recognize that there are serious humanitarian needs at the border,” the aide continued. “We gave Congressional Republicans a thoughtful offer to address those needs.”
Congressional leaders believe a disaster relief bill can pass before lawmakers take a recess for Memorial Day.
The vast number of UACs entering into Border Patrol custody has pushed government resources past its breaking point. Earlier in May, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost pleaded with Congress to not only assist her agency with additional funding, but enact legislative reforms to address the underlying causes of the crisis.
The offer marks the latest development in congressional negotiations over a disaster aid bill, which includes roughly $17 billion for communities across the U.S. affected by hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires in the past 18 months. Republican lawmakers first proposed tying the administration’s border emergency request to the disaster bill.
The White House asked Congress on May 1 for an additional $4.5 billion in border emergency funding. The request includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance, $1.1 billion for border operations, and $377 million for the Pentagon and the National Guard to operate on the southern border.
Trump unveiled his sweeping plan to reform the U.S. immigration system on Thursday. The proposal includes a two-pronged approach that calls for better border security and a shift to a more merit-based system that allows for more high-skilled migrants to enter the country.
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