As panicked Democrats struggle to keep the impeachment narrative alive in the wake of Mueller’s disappointing testimony before Congress, the GOP is hoping to make progress on the border. House Republicans made a last-minute plea with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to fix the immigration crisis, even if it means missing out on Congress’ August recess.
A group of 34 House Republicans led by Texas Rep. Chip Roy (R) sent a letter to Pelosi demanding that she cancel the recess so Congress can debate an appropriations bill to fund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as fix asylum loopholes to help stem the tide of humanity at the border. Pelosi has repeatedly kicked the can and refused to work with President Donald Trump to help solve the crisis, which months ago she called “manufactured.”
“We are united in our belief that the House of Representatives should not adjourn for August recess before providing adequate funding to our men and women of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the frontlines dealing with the ongoing humanitarian crisis on our southern border,” the Republicans wrote.
Republicans demand Pelosi fund ICE and cancel recess
Months ago, Pelosi stood alongside Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and declared that the border crisis was fabricated. In the months since, it has spiraled out of control as federal immigration authorities have struggled to respond to a spike in illegal immigration and families seeking asylum.
Republicans have faulted the inaction of Democrats for allowing the crisis to fester, rather than addressing it sooner. In the letter, Republicans criticized Pelosi for failing to debate a bill to adequately fund ICE during regular order – leaving immigration agents in the lurch. They called on Pelosi to cancel August recess so debate can proceed.
“ICE is using all the tools and resources at their disposal to house, process, and care for the hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing our southern border each month. They are overwhelmed,” the Republicans wrote. “They’ve told Congress time after time they are overwhelmed, yet we have refused to supply them with the tools they need.”
In the letter, Republicans complained that an emergency supplemental funding bill that Congress passed last month left ICE “underfunded” and noted that “not one single dollar” was allocated for beds in migrant detention centers, thereby making it “unconscionable” to blame ICE for overcrowding in detention centers.
Liberals in Pelosi’s caucus have generally sought to block funds from going to ICE and other agencies tasked with enforcing immigration law. An intra-party dispute among erupted in Pelosi’s caucus over the $4.6 billion humanitarian aid bill, which Pelosi endorsed over the objection of more progressive Democrats, who said it did not go far enough to block money for immigration enforcement.
Demands asylum reform
The signees, who included Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mark Meadows (N.C.), also mentioned other reforms which they said are necessary to fix the border crisis, like changes to asylum law and the 2008 Flores agreement.
“Additionally, we must address the largest barriers to regaining operational control of the border: family detention and the Flores agreement, the unintended consequences of the 2008 trafficking law that impedes our ability to expeditiously process unaccompanied children, cartels maintaining operational control of our border, and loopholes in our asylum laws.”
The 2008 law prohibits immigration officials from detaining children and families for longer than 20 days. As a result, many are released into the interior indefinitely.
President Trump has called for reform to lenient, so-called “catch and release” policies that allow migrants to escape into the interior of the country while their cases are being adjudicated. He has also said that reform to asylum policy is needed to cut down on frivolous, fraudulent claims of asylum, which are currently backlogging immigration courts. Many Central American refugees, who comprise the great majority of new migrants at the border, are seeking economic opportunity — not fleeing war and persecution.