Appropriations Committee Introduces Legislation to Address the Southwest Border Crisis
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced legislation to provide funding to address the current immigration crisis on the Southwestern border.
The bill, H.R. 5230, contains a total of $659 million for border security, enforcement of immigration and customs laws, humanitarian assistance, and illegal immigration prevention. This funding is targeted to meet the immediate needs surrounding the current border crisis, and will be sufficient to cover the estimated costs of these activities for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year. The legislation is fully offset through cuts and rescissions of existing funds within federal agencies, and will result in no new or additional federal spending.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers issued the following statement on the introduction of the bill:
“The situation on our southern border is dire, and additional resources are needed to respond to the crisis at hand. The bill introduced today will help address the urgent needs of our law enforcement personnel and federal agencies to strengthen our border, enforce our laws, care for and process the thousands of unaccompanied children and immigrant families already in the United States, and help stem the illegal immigration tide for the future – all while keeping a tight rein on taxpayer dollars.
“This border problem has been exacerbated by the President’s current immigration policies, and it will be up to the White House to take the lead in reversing the flow of illegal immigrants into our country. The funding included in the bill today will provide the tools necessary for our agency personnel to ensure immediate needs are met, but the Administration must implement changes to their border policies and fully enforce existing immigration law if we are to adequately address this crisis.
“In the meantime, Congress has a duty to pass this bill quickly to provide immediate assistance for thousands of unaccompanied children, to strengthen our borders, and to bolster the enforcement of our laws. This is a good bill, and I urge its swift passage in both the House and Senate before Congress adjourns for the August recess. Any future funding needs can and should be addressed as part of the regular 2015 fiscal year Appropriations process, and be subject to the budget caps put into place by the Ryan-Murray budget agreement.”
Funding and Provisions Included in H.R. 5230:
Protecting our Southwest Border and Enforcing our Laws -
- $405 million for the Department of Homeland Security to boost border security and law enforcement activities. This includes:
- $334 million for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to boost enforcement of immigration and customs laws in response to the rise in unaccompanied alien children and families. This funding will support increased and upgraded detention space, transportation costs, overtime costs, expedited migrant processing, and additional deportation and enforcement personnel.
- $71 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations, including increased processing, detention, and transportation activities.
- Authority for Southwest border states to reallocate existing state and local grant funds for costs related to combating illegal immigration and humanitarian efforts for unaccompanied alien children and families.
- $22 million to accelerate judicial proceedings for immigrants. This includes funding to hire additional, temporary immigration judges, and funding to complete the outfitting of every Department of Justice immigration courtroom nationwide with video teleconferencing equipment in order to utilize all existing court resources. This will help increase the capacity of our immigration courts to process cases, reduce the backlog, and shorten the time between apprehension and issuance of removal orders.
- $35 million for National Guard border efforts – essentially doubling the funding for the Guard presence on the border. This will bolster National Guard efforts to assist the Border Patrol with surveillance, intelligence, and humanitarian activities.
Providing Humanitarian Assistance –
- $197 million for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide temporary housing and humanitarian assistance to unaccompanied minors. This funding is sufficient to care for children in U.S. custody already. This funding will cover the cost of short-term care while the children await processing and adjudication. This includes facility rental and maintenance, bed space, meals, medical care and treatment, vaccinations, education services, staffing, security, and therapy costs for children who have experienced trauma or abuse during transit.
Preventing Future Crisis
- $40 million in repatriation assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The funds will support processing and reintegration efforts in these countries to help them swiftly accept those individuals and families returning from the United States. This funding is redirected from within existing foreign aid for Central American countries so that these repatriation activities are immediately prioritized.
The funding in the legislation is fully offset through cuts and rescissions of existing funds within various federal agencies. Many of these offset accounts have been previously used for savings as part of past Appropriations bills. The savings include:
- $22 million in excess funding from the Department of Justice “Asset Forfeiture Fund.”
- $35 million from excess funding from the Department of Defense “Working Capital Fund.”
- $405 million from unobligated, prior-year, non-emergency funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- $197 million in rescissions from unexpended, unused, prior-year balances within the State Department’s Economic Support Fund.
Policy Provisions –
The legislation includes several policy provisions recommended by the “Speaker’s Working Group on the Border Crisis,” led by Rep. Kay Granger. These provisions include:
- A change to the “Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008,” to require that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than seven days after they are screened by child welfare officials.
- A prohibition on the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture from denying or restricting CBP activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions within 100 miles of the US-Mexico border.
- A change to the Immigration and Nationality Act to strengthen the law prohibiting criminals with serious drug-related convictions from applying for asylum.
- A provision expressing the “Sense of Congress” that the Secretary of Defense should not house unauthorized aliens at military installations unless certain specific conditions are met.
For the text of the legislation, please visit: /UploadedFiles/07.29.14_FY_2014_Supplemental_Appropriations_Bill.pdf