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Great Big Wolf of Border Supplemental Budget Request is Dressed in Lamb’s Clothing of “Humanitarian Aid”

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Don’t Let Trump Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes

The $4.5 billion supplemental budget request tells you a great deal about what Donald Trump is getting wrong about the surge of migrants seeking asylum at our southern border.  While the administration is pretending to be concerned about plight of the children and families and casting their budget request as humanitarian aid, in reality they are asking for billions that would further their failed approach – giving them more dollars to implement their failed vision.

Take the $1.6 billion the administration is asking for DHS to address crisis Trump created and and made worse. While the administration is trying to emphasize that it would help the humanitarian crisis, a close read shows the opposite – of the $1.6 billion for DHS, only $10 million is for actual humanitarian response and not a dime is for judges or ways to fairly and efficiently adjudicate asylum claims at a time when the backlog is at a record high.

About $3 billion of the overall request will go to sheltering children in ORR care, which is needed to clean up the mess left by the President’s family separation policy that began a year ago. The money is all the more urgent after yesterday’s news that a 16 year old died in ORR custody. But Congress needs to ensure that any approved funding comes with strict prohibitions against the administration launching a new round of family separations,

Most of money the Trump administration is requesting is for DHS and military personnel, training Border Patrol agents to say no to families seeking asylum, and incarceration. In other words, pretty much more of the same, demonstrating that the President is not interested in solving problems, he is interested in another border budget standoff between Republicans and Democrats that becomes another Trump 2020 talking point.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director and Founder of America’s Voice said:

We have a refugee crisis emanating from Central America and a humanitarian crisis emanating from the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the spike in arrivals. Trump is failing and flailing, and now he demands more funds for more of the same ineffective strategy.

What we need is money for humane temporary shelters that are appropriate for families and children. What we need is an increase in trained asylum officers and independent Immigration Judges — as well as counsel for applicants — to properly, efficiently and fairly process claims for asylum and other forms of protection. What we need is to broaden our approach beyond the border, work with our allies in the region as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and stand up a refugee protection and refugee resettlement program. What we need is a dramatic approach to addressing the root causes for out-migration from the northern triangle countries of Central America by devising and implementing, in coordination and consultation with local actors on the ground, something on the scale of a Marshall Plan.

The Trump strategy is doomed to fail. When people are fleeing the burning house that is the northern triangle of Central America, cruelty, imprisonment, and deterrence-only at the border simply will not work. Trump is all punishment all the time, when the refugee and humanitarian crisis underway calls for a multi-pronged strategy that, over time, will begin to bring more order to the chaos fueled by a president more interested in his tough guy brand and his re-election than in rising to the challenge with a set of pragmatic solutions. Funding Trump’s politicized and failed approach — without a significant change — is akin to  throwing money down the drain.

There’s a better way. We need a new strategy, one that ensures the fairness of life-and-death  asylum decisions, regionalizes and internationalizes our response, and distinguishes between those eligible for protection and those who are not in a way that upholds the integrity of our laws and limits.