House Democrats spent two years in the minority last Congress admonishing Republicans for not doing enough to protect and care for migrant children crossing the nation’s southern border. Now in the majority with control over the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her conference are poised to let funding for the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program run out. Why? They never cared in the first place.
White House OMB Director Russ Vought sent congressional leadership a letter May 1 requesting $4.5 billion in emergency funding, citing an unfolding “humanitarian and security crisis” that is becoming “more dire each day.” While Vought’s request included funding for additional ICE beds, resources to care for migrants, including mothers and children, who are apprehended by law enforcement, the majority was for humanitarian aid, which includes the care and placement of unaccompanied alien children, otherwise known as the UAC program.
The volume of UAC seeking to enter the country has increased to unprecedented levels in recent months. From October 2018 to April 2019, the number of unaccompanied alien children nearly doubled. Border Patrol estimates its agents have apprehended 44,835 unaccompanied minor children this fiscal year alone. According to OMB, the number of UAC referred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has increased over 57 percent compared to this time last year, while the appropriation for the program has not increased.
Before so much as reviewing Vought’s request and without regard for the UAC figures, House Democrats went to the media to sully it before the American people. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey called it an attempt “to double down on cruel and ill-conceived policies,” a bailout for ICE for “overspending on detention beds,” and accused the administration of “locking up people who pose no threat to the community.”
After some Democratic preening and over two weeks with no response from House leadership, Vought sent leadership another letter last Friday. Vought warned congressional leadership that the situation at the border has “continued to deteriorate” and that, without action from Congress, HHS will quickly burn through its funds -- set to expire at the end of the fiscal year--that involve the “immediate welfare” and “safety for human life.” Vought specifically referenced the $2.88 billion in supplemental funding for the UAC program included in his original request.
House Democrats have remained silent. Their silence is either out of ignorance, or it is deliberate. Given the level of media coverage, and the repeated, direct requests from OMB about the need to fund the UAC program, it is clear this is a deliberate choice from our Democratic colleagues.
Democratic leaders have no intention of responding to the Trump administration’s request. The truth is they never cared about the children in the first place. It was all pure politics. They have zero interest in securing the border. They want open borders and have shown a blatant disregard for the rule of law.
Pelosi claimed in 2018 that, “Democrats have taken full responsibility for the border.” Now, as Speaker, while she controls the House floor, Pelosi can lead and take responsibility. What has that ‘leadership’ gotten us? A paltry $1.375 billion for less than adequate border security funding, two-consecutive months of over 100,000 apprehensions at the southern border, hundreds of pounds of dangerous narcotics flowing across our border, and cartels remain in operational control of our immigration system.
First, Pelosi and Democrats denied the existence of the national emergency. Now, they are willing to let federal agencies run out of money to care for migrant children. How bad does it have to get for Pelosi to care?
Because Republicans failed to act while in the majority, Congress should act now and provide more than the $4.5 billion the Trump administration is requesting in supplemental funding. If Pelosi and House Democrats are unwilling to have the serious debates needed to address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, they are forcing President Trump to take all necessary steps to secure the border, stop the abuse of migrant women and children, and shore up American sovereignty.
President Trump was right to declare a state of emergency at our border. If a recalcitrant Congress refuses to act, he would be right to move forward securing our border.