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US House looks set to pass emergency funding bill for migrants

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (AP) — Democratic leaders in the House proposed somewhat tighter requirements for the care of unaccompanied refugee children as they sought to pass a US$4.5 billion emergency funding bill to address the humanitarian crisis involving the thousands of migrant families detained after crossing the US-Mexico border.

Lawmakers and aides said the concessions — and a full court press by top leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif) — were likely to result in a winning tally when the measure comes to a vote later on Tuesday, despite lingering reservations among Hispanic and liberal Democrats.

The Senate hopes to vote on a different, and bipartisan, companion measure as early as Tuesday as the chambers race to wrap up the must-do legislation by the end of the week. Many House Democrats say the Senate version's provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough. House Democrats seeking changes met late Monday with Pelosi, and lawmakers emerging from a morning caucus meeting were supportive of the legislation.

Rep Darren Soto, (D-Fla), said the Democratic measure would fully fund migrant care and "make sure that we are treating these immigrant children with dignity like any other great country would."

The White House is threatening to veto the House bill, saying the measure would hamstring the administration's border security efforts and raising fresh questions about the legislation's fate.

Changes unveiled Tuesday would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish new standards for care of unaccompanied immigrant children and a plan for ensuring adequate translators to assist migrants in their dealings with law enforcement.

Many children detained entering the US from Mexico have been held under harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency's care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.

Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess. While lawmakers don't want to depart without acting on the legislation for fear of being accused of not responding to humanitarian problems at the border, it seems unlikely that Congress would have time to send a House-Senate compromise to Trump by week's end.


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