America's Voice En Español »
Yesterday, the House passed the Senate version of an emergency spending bill to fund the Trump administration’s border policies, and Republicans went to the mat to insist that no conditions or oversight protections for the care of children and families in U.S. custody were included in the package.
The following is a statement by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
For months, the excuse from Republicans to explain the horrible images of squalor and deprivation of children in U.S. custody – including toddlers and babies – has been that the Congress hadn’t given the Trump administration enough money and authority to care for them properly. Now that excuse is gone. Republicans got most of what they wanted for Trump: billions more with few guardrails and little accountability.
The onus is now on the President and his party. It’s their strategy and it’s their responsibility. President Trump has approached a refugee crisis based on conditions in Central America as if it was a national security crisis. And because he fundamentally misdiagnoses the challenge, he has mismanaged it into a humanitarian crisis at our border and a human rights emergency due to the mistreatment of children and families.
In a week when the deaths of young Oscar Martinez and his daughter Valeria shocked the conscience of the nation and the world, the U.S. Congress wrote the Trump administration a blank check for the policies that contributed to their deaths. Just days after this administration argued that children don’t need soap or toothbrushes, and in the midst of revelations that children and families are being held in horrid conditions, Republicans insisted on and Democrats complied with a bill that has minimal safeguards and inadequate accountability measures.
We get the urgency of approving funding to deal with the humanitarian crisis affecting vulnerable children. We get that Congress had to act. But we are deeply disappointed that most Senate Democrats and too many moderate House Democrats refused to use the leverage available to them to negotiate a better deal.
We have no confidence in this administration to do the right thing. Trump’s failing and cruel strategy is premised on the idea that deterrence will stop people from fleeing to save their lives. It hasn’t worked and it won’t. Going forward, it will be up to Democrats in Congress, the media, and advocates to keep shining a light on DHS’s callous disregard and sadistic mistreatment of people in their custody.
May we respectfully request that Democrats in Congress learn from this experience. Yes, deal with the humanitarian crisis fueled by this administration at the border with emergency funding when needed. Yes, propose and advocate for workable solutions as reflected in House and Senate bills to address the refugee crisis that have been introduced. Yes, hold this administration accountable as best you can, even as Republicans shield Trump and his gang from accountability. And yes, Democrats, when the next spending bill comes forward, fight them and not each other; ensure that accountability, guardrails and requirements are written into the law.
Democrats are for concrete, sensible approaches to managing the current crisis and to modernize our immigration policies for the 21st century. As the next year and a half unfold, Democrats should lean in, confident that they stand for the majority of Americans who reject the President’s cruelty and the callous and cynical acquiescence of his Republican enablers in the House and Senate and want workable, humane solutions.