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America Can—and Should—Do Better

Congress must act, quickly, to provide humanitarian relief at Border Patrol detention facilities.

There is emerging bipartisan consensus of a humanitarian crisis on our Southern border. Democrat and Republican members of Congress have visited these “temporary” detention facilities. On this past Sunday’s “Face the Nation”, Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul urged Congress to act. The Texas Tribune reported on Monday that private citizens’ donations meant to ease the harsh living conditions, especially for children, in the detention facilities were being turned away by the Border Patrol. Border Patrol officials cite the Antideficiency Act as the reason for their inability to accept private donations.

If only we had a government body which could amend laws!

We do have that body. What Congress has made law, Congress can repeal or amend.  The Antideficiency Act was meant to combat bribery. It certainly was not intended to prevent the charitable donations of citizens. This could be argued, successfully, in the courts.  That would take at least a year to litigate.  Meanwhile, children will continue to suffer in over-crowded facilities with lice-ridden blankets, insufficient drinking water, and without toothbrushes or diapers. Congress can be nimble when it wishes to be.  I’ve seen it pass legislation to increase the debt ceiling, authorize Presidential military authority over-seas, and pass omnibus spending bills—all in less than a month’s time.

Call on Congress to pass emergency legislation suspending the Antideficiency Act for the Border Patrol and ICE. Put a 90 day re-authorization requirement on the bill, if they must, but get it done and get it done quickly. Congress must stop using the suffering of these children and their parents as prisoners in their political power games. The previous Republican Congress, to their great shame, failed to enact immigration policies that would prevent the over-crowding of detention facilities for asylum seekers. The Democrat led House and the Republican led Senate continue this political game of chicken while human beings suffer within our borders.

We, as private citizens, cannot continue to condone Congress’s inaction on these matters.  We must not repeat the mistakes of our past. We are the United States of America. We can—we must—do better.

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