The local press is up to the limit of analyses about Trump’s request for border aid, which is stuck in the middle of new obstacles, all coming from the Legislative Branch.
However, recent information of cut funds for shelters of immigrant minors, left with the minimum to eat, separated from their parents or arrived alone to the nation, put a mirror in front of the nation and few know if they will like the image that this type of attitude reflects.
It is necessary to point out that the origin of this situation lies in the fact that the administration wants approximately $4, 5 billion in supplemental funding, including $3, 3 billion for humanitarian aid.
The main Republican senators now warn that money for essential services along the border will run out in a matter of weeks unless Congress takes action.
The political rhetoric on this issue estimates that extra border assistance was about to be included in the recent disaster aid package, but it got yanked after a stalemate threatened passage of the $19.1 billion recovery bill.
That setback left funding adrift as Washington focused its attention on larger struggles over issues such as tariffs and budget ceilings.
According to journalist Jordain Carney in Washington, “Republican senators began sending out warning flares this week that Congress needs to pass new funds by the end of the month or a Health and Human Services (HHS) program to care for unaccompanied migrant children will run out of money as early as next month.”
A warning call
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted on the issue several times in recent days in speeches, press conferences and interviews.
“Democrats need to take their heads out of the sand and work with us on our side of the border to address the humanitarian crisis that their resistance has contributed to.” McConnell said during a weekly leadership press conference.
The White House has requested nearly $3 billion to shore up the Office of Refugee Resettlement. HHS Secretary Alex Azar described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis” during a Fox News interview on Thursday, while pleading with Congress to approve the additional funds.
“We are running out of money. We are functionally out of space,” he said. “Congress has got to pass a supplemental appropriation that President Trump has asked for.”
“By early July we may be out of funding,” Azar added.
The struggle for funding takes place amid growing tensions at the border. Trump is threatening to apply new tariffs to Mexico starting Monday unless the country takes significant steps to crack down on migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a strategy that combines two divisive issues and has subsequently sparked a bipartisan reaction on Capitol Hill.
Shelters suffer the consequences
HHS also said this week that it had told shelters housing migrants to begin winding down services, including legal assistance and recreational activities that were not directly related to children’s safety. The agency said it was ending those services because it was quickly running out of funds quickly and the Anti-Deficiency Act requires HHS to prioritize safety when faced with a funding shortfall.
Azar warned on Thursday that the situation could worsen unless Congress approves Trump’s supplemental request, arguing that HHS staff will not be able to pay and grantees will be “operating on IOU´s”
HHS operates a network of approximately 168 facilities and programs in 23 states to accommodate unaccompanied children. On average this year, the agency has taken some 40,000 children, including 12,587 in April.
Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have suggested that Congress provide humanitarian aid to help unaccompanied children, but any path to reach an agreement relates to partisan landmines and even party battles.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby described McConnell as “eager to move” a supplemental funding bill.
“If it’s more than humanitarian assistance, it will probably go nowhere,” Shelby said. “But you have to ask, who would vote against that?”
Shelby acknowledged that he had not discussed the issue “at length” with Democrats.
When reporters pointed out that immigration-related legislation tends to fall apart on Capitol Hill, he said it was a “good observation. We’ll just have to see.”
“Y’all keen watchers of everything,” he joked.