Grassley: Solving Border & Humanitarian Crisis Requires More than Money
Jun 26, 2019
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made the following statement after voting in favor of a bipartisan supplemental appropriations bill to fund the government’s response to the historic influx of undocumented migration at the southern border. The legislation was passed by a vote of 84-8.
“Make no mistake, the immigration crisis at the southern border is not manufactured, as some have suggested. It’s real and it demands action. Record-level illegal border crossings are straining government resources, crowding migrant housing facilities and adding to the existing backlog in immigration courts. This appropriations bill is necessary to address ballooning migrant housing and care needs, but it falls far short of fixing the underlying causes of the ongoing crisis.
“Today’s vote confirms that Senate Republicans are committed to action, but this crisis will persist if Democrats continue to block critically important reforms that improve border security and protect against exploitation of migrants. The status quo only encourages more families to embark on dangerous journeys to the United States, further enabling human smugglers to profit off the exploitation of children and other vulnerable people. We cannot afford to continue throwing money at this problem without taking action to solve the underlying drivers of this humanitarian crisis,” Grassley said.
The Southern Border Supplemental Appropriations Act provides $4.6 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for migrant processing, housing and care. However, the bill provides no funding for border security or immigration enforcement and expressly prohibits DHS from reprograming existing agency funding to meet its priorities. It also fails to expand detention space for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The bill also prohibits information sharing between HHS and ICE to assist in background checks for unaccompanied child migrants. Grassley has expressed concern that insufficient vetting of sponsors has led to child exploitation and recycling – the smuggling of young children back and forth across the border to help unrelated adults appear as a “family unit” so they get special treatment when entering the country. Grassley has cosponsored legislation to allow for information sharing between HHS and DHS to prevent abuse and exploitation of child migrants. At a recent hearing, Grassley expressed frustration that such legislation would face opposition in Congress.
“And it’s outrageous that we can’t pass legislation to correct this. And somehow, you know, passing a little piece of legislation stopping [child] recycling as an example – that wouldn’t be so important that you wouldn’t worry about having a bipartisan agreement to get a bill passed,” Grassley said in the hearing.