Senators propose $1 billion to aid DHS in addressing future migrant surges
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
Senators introduced legislation that would require federal agencies tasked with managing migration at the border to make strategic plans and allow access to $1 billion in contingency funding, lawmakers announced Friday.
Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly introduced the Border Response Resilience Act that would establish a $1 billion “Irregular Migration Border Response Fund” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide food, clothing, blankets, and transportation for unaccompanied migrant minors and family members without having to transfer funding allocated to border security, according to the lawmakers. The act would require federal officials to make plans and “conduct exercises to improve the federal response to increased migration at the border.”
“DHS has been unprepared for unlawful migrant surges at our southern border in 2014, 2019, and again during the current crisis. This is unacceptable. DHS and other federal agencies must be able to respond immediately to the need for shelter for migrants as well as additional personnel to handle surging numbers of unlawful migrants at our border,” Portman said in a statement.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) propose $1 billion “Irregular Migration Border Response Fund” so DHS "is not forced to transfer resources away from border security priorities" to care for migrant families and children https://t.co/BbDEGdKrK8
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) May 28, 2021
The funds would also cover overtime costs for border agents, equipment, health care and trauma-informed care for children, according to the lawmakers. Border officials are encountering record numbers of migrants with a budget that doesn’t cover the agency’s needs.
“The federal government has repeatedly failed Arizona on immigration and border security in part because there isn’t a plan or the necessary resources,” Kelly said in a statement. “The Border Response Resilience Act that Senator Portman and I introduced takes the politics out of the process by requiring DHS to develop a response plan that prioritizes safety for border communities and a humane process for migrants.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials encountered more than 178,000 migrants at the southern border in April, including over 17,000 unaccompanied minors, according to the agency.
New York Republican Rep. John Katko and Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar introduced a similar bill on April 1, titled the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, that would require DHS to come up with plans to handle a migrant crisis to access $1 billion from the Migration Surge Border Response Fund, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security the day it was introduced and no actions have been taken since.
Neither Cuellar, Katko, Kelly or Portman responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.