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AOC And Co. Vote No On Humanitarian Aid For Border Children

Trump threatens veto of the bill, putting the president and AOC on the same side but for different reasons.

Responding to Republican criticism that Democrats have not allowed funding for detention facilities on the Southern border, the House passed a $4.5 billion dollar package of emergency humanitarian relief late last night. House passage of the bill puts the ball in the court of Senate Republicans.

The House bill was passed amid horrifying reports of the inhumane conditions in which migrant children are being detained in facilities along the border. Dolly Lucio Sevier, a physician, described the conditions in the camps as “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food” in an interview with ABC News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the situation “child abuse,” adding, “It is an atrocity that violates every value we have. Today our legislation is a vote against the cruel attitude toward children of this administration.”

There was opposition to the bill on both sides, but Pelosi was able to keep her caucus in line. The bill passed the House by a 230-195 margin.

The House vote was largely along party lines with four Democrats and three Republicans crossing the aisle. Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) voted against the bill while Republicans Will Hurd (R-Texas), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) voted for it.

The four Democrats released a joint statement in which they said that they opposed any funding for the Trump Administration’s immigration requests even if it goes to help immigrant children.

“It is absolutely unconscionable to even consider giving one more dollar to support this President’s deportation force that openly commits human rights abuses and refuses to be held accountable to the American people,” the statement read. “That is why in good conscience we cannot support this supplemental funding bill, which gives even more money to ICE and CBP and continues to support a fundamentally cruel and broken immigration system.”

Speaker Pelosi noted that the bill was a funding bill and not an immigration reform measure.

Since the revelations of unsanitary conditions in the detainment facilities have become public, Republicans have criticized Democrats for holding up funding that could pay for more beds and supplies for detainees. Earlier this week, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted, “Dems have refused to support funding for resources at the border [and] have offered no solutions.”

Opposition from Democrats centered on an unwillingness to aid President Trump’s immigration agenda. Democratic opposition forced changes to the bill before the vote. Changes to the bill require the CBP to establish nutrition and hygiene standards for children and adults that must be met by private contractors within six months, require a plan for all migrants have access to translation services, and limit the amount of time that unaccompanied migrant children can spend at an arrival shelter if space is available at other facilities.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it passes the Senate. In a letter reported by the AP, the Trump Administration said, “ This bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts.”

With President Trump threatening a veto, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. The humanitarian crisis on the Southern border is likely to remain problematic as Congress leaves Washington for a recess late next week.

In reality, neither party has an incentive to solve the immigration problem. A solution would require a compromise immigration reform bill since neither party has the votes to enact their priorities on their own. The real priority of both parties is using the border children as bargaining chips to keep their bases engaged and generate donations. Democrats don’t want Trump to be responsible for immigration reform that provides a pathway to legalization and they don’t want to hand him a win on the wall. Republicans are so locked into the idea of deporting all illegals that any attempt at compromise, even one that would secure the border, is derided as “amnesty.” President Trump cannot flipflop on his signature issue even if businesses and moderates desert the party over his immigration policies.

The Trump Administration’s hardline is out of the mainstream and may jeopardize Republican electoral hopes next according to a recent poll from none other than Fox News. The survey found that 50 percent believed that Trump’s immigration policies had “gone too far.” Strong majorities also favored allowing “dreamers” to stay and increased security without a wall. Majorities opposed the wall and implementing tariffs on Mexico.  

The one thing that can change the math on immigration is public pressure. President Trump reversed his policy of intentionally separating families last year after overwhelming public opposition against the plan. Such an outcry on behalf of detained immigrant children could lead the Trump Administration to provide relief. Failing that, Republicans will have a difficult time on the campaign trail defending the administration’s harsh treatment of immigrant children. Ocasio-Cortez and her cohorts should also have to answer for their votes against funding humanitarian aid for the children.


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