Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday night to provide emergency funding for the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill, HR 3401, provides $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, and to provide for security. It passed the House by a vote of 230 to 195, largely along party lines with the exception of four Democrats voting against the bill, and three Republicans voting for it.
President Trump has threatened to veto the measure, stating that the legislation “does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis” and “contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts.”
The appropriations would go to the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services. According to ABC news reports, $934.5 million would go to funding processing facilities, food, water and personal items, and transportation and medical services.
Last-minute changes to the legislation included requirements that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issue new standards for the care of migrants and requiring HHS contractors to supply sufficient supplies and medical care for migrants in custody.
“We must meet our responsibility to ensure the humane treatment of children and families in U.S. custody, and this legislation further strengthens protections for those individuals and increases accountability,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) stated.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) criticized the legislation as partisan, noting that it included no funding for a border wall and would likely be vetoed by the president if it passed the Senate. Scalise called instead for the passage of legislation to support border personnel and reform immigration laws to address the root causes of the crisis.
Tuesday’s vote came after President Trump postponed nationwide raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were planned to pick up thousands of migrant families with deportation orders for removal.
The chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, stated on Saturday, before the raids were delayed, that “broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration.”
“Instead,” he stated, “we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good.”
The situation along the U.S. – Mexico border remains a highly emotive situation, with individual cases drawing comment and attention from civil and religious leaders. A recent photograph showing the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, floating along the Rio Grande riverbank circulated across the world after they were discovered on June 24.
The image caused Pope Francis to speak of his “profound sadness” at the tragic loss of life and his prayers “for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery.”
On Wednesday, the USCCB released a statement from Vasquez and conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo calling the image “horrific” and the “unspeakable consequence of a failed immigration system.”
“This image silences politics,” DiNardo and Vasquez wrote.
“Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.”