Senate heads toward addressing border crisis … by funding refugee resettlement & legal aid

· June 19, 2019  
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Mitch McConnell
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Imagine a raging inferno at our border and the American people begging the politicians to take notice of the problem. Finally, after a year of cajoling, the politicians swiftly turn their attention to the inferno and douse the flames …with a blowtorch and lighter fluid.

Today, both parties got together and agreed to spend even more money on illegal aliens without a penny for deportations, interdiction, or enforcement, while declaring that they solved the border problem. After just minutes of marking up the first major border legislation in months, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $4.59 billion supplemental spending bill with no debate, 30-1.

Here are the highlights:

  • It’s all about refugee resettlement: The lion’s share of the bill, $2.88 billion, is for HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. In other words, the funding is all for resettling the very people that the bill was supposed to deter. Republican defenders of the bill will suggest that they have no choice; otherwise, things will get even more chaotic. But let things get “more chaotic.” It’s time the American people see the full scope of what is going on. Moreover, unlike illegal immigrants released by DHS, those sent to HHS are permanently resettled in our country, making it very hard to deport them. Also, thanks to a provision in the February omnibus, which the same apologists also said we had no choice but to pass, ICE is prohibited from using alien information provided to it by HHS for deportations.
  • The bill places more mandates on HHS to provide more information about children separated from parents. Again, this is all about illegal aliens and not about protecting Americans.
  • The remaining funding for DHS is entirely for humanitarian aid for illegal aliens, not a dime for deporting or for a media campaign in Central America dissuading would-be immigrants from coming here, as Obama proposed in 2014.
  • Department of Justice funding includes $65 million for “30 new Immigration Judge Teams and as well as funding for the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) to educate detainees about the Immigration Court process and thus expedite Immigration Court proceedings.” Thus, we are further funding a legal aid program for illegal aliens with a program Jeff Sessions tried to eliminate, at a time when the entire border crisis is impelled by lawfare in the courts. The LOP offers “individual referrals to pro-bono legal services.” Also, as a way of getting around the federal bar on taxpayer funding for legal help, the LOP allows illegal aliens to “briefly discuss their cases with experienced LOP providers and pose more specific questions.”

Apologists for the administration will suggest that this is “the best they can do.” They will also suggest that it is necessary to fund these programs to prevent more chaos. But absent any effort to use any other leverage or executive action to fund enforcement and change the policies, they as may as well hand $4.5 billion straight to the cartels and smugglers. Everything is an excuse for a Republican Party that seems incapable of even holding the line Obama did in 2014. They have blown through every budget bill and refuse to demand more funding for ICE, policy changes, or fixes to the lawfare. With every one of these bills, they give Democrats even more lighter fluid, making current law worse, and then claim it’s the “best” they can get.

The question Trump voters need to ask is: What is the endgame? It’s OK to give in to Democrats once or twice if you have a solid plan to hold the line on other points of leverage – from invoking an 1182(f) shutoff and getting rid of DACA to designating the cartels as terrorists, deploying the military more aggressively, and using must-pass bills and budget bills in September to hold the line. But that has never happened for the first 2.5 years, and there are certainly no signs of that happening now.

However, in the Orwellian language of the bipartisan swamp, prioritizing illegal aliens is yet again is somehow touted as “funding border security.”

If Trump even got something – just one thing, whether ICE agents, more border interdiction assets, or just one policy change – it might be worth giving Democrats this funding. But we got nothing. The only thing this bill will accomplish is giving Democrats, particularly those Republicans need to defeat in order to win back the House majority, cover to say they put out the flames at the border. Fortunately for them, they get to do so while fanning them more than ever, just like they did in February, when GOP apologists gave us the same song and dance they are giving today.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.