Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked with his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the committee June 19 to provide funding to process and care for migrants at the U.S. southern border.
“Today, Republicans and Democrats on the Appropriations Committee took important steps to address the real humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border and improve the U.S. government’s capacity to humanely process cases of migrant children and families,” said Coons. “I’m proud that we were able to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure migrants are treated in a way that is consistent with U.S. values.”
A summary of Coons’ priorities:
— Taking care of children at ORR: The bill includes $2.88 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to care for migrant children and help place children with sponsor families. Coons and his Democratic colleagues added important conditions to this provision to ensure the children in U.S. custody are treated humanely and provided appropriate care, including $100 million in post-release services, child advocates, and legal services; $9 million to move children quickly and safely from institutional care to family sponsors; and $5 million for the HHS Office of Inspector General for program oversight.
— Addressing the humanitarian crisis at the border: The bill includes $1.3 billion to improve conditions at the border and alleviate overcrowding and Customs and Border Patrol facilities. Coons and his Democratic colleagues secured a provision in the bill to prohibit this money from being used for any purpose other than what was appropriated, including for the wall or enforcement efforts, such as ICE detention beds. The bill includes $793 million for new migrant care and processing facilities to address overcrowding at CBP facilities on the southwest border, $112 million for food, supplies, equipment and medical care for migrants in CBP processing facilities and $83 million for safe transportation of migrants.
— Funds to address the asylum backlog and improve legal services: The bill includes $65 million for the Executive Office for Immigration Review to improve the asylum process, including $45 million to hire 30 additional immigration judge teams; $10 million for courtroom space and equipment to improve judicial adjudication; and $10 million for legal orientation program, nearly doubling the amount appropriated for this program in fiscal 2019.