At this point in the border crisis, there are many questions that still need to be answered. One being: “How will the U.S. pay for all this?” Whether the federal government ends up deporting these unaccompanied children at a faster rate than usual or not, it will nonetheless cost the United States money.
Recently, President Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress to help with the crisis. However, that amount was not approved. In late July, Senate Democrats came up with an amount that one could consider to be a compromise. The amount proposed by Democrats would be $1 billion less than what the president had requested, but $1.2 billion more than what Republicans in the House agreed to support.
At the time the proposed funding was announced, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said that “the challenges to this request are many,” but hoped it could be resolved quickly. She stated that if the amount offered was not accepted, it could lead to troubling outcomes for the children. She also reminded the group that it is not the children that they should be going after, “we want to go after those people who are exploiting the children.”
Before the $2.7 billion amount was proposed by Senate Democrats, House Republicans had offered $1.5 billion in aid. However, it was not disclosed how that money would be used. Although they did not talk specifics, House Republicans did “propose a number of additional policy changes, such as sending National Guard troops to the border and changing a 2008 law to allow for quicker deportations.”
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats did not include any changes to current immigration laws along with their $2.7 billion proposal. Additional funding would give $1.1 billion to “the Department of Homeland Security to apprehend, detain, and eventually deport undocumented minors and families.” A portion of the money would be put towards the creation of family detention centers. The proposal would require ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to reduce money being spent on detention. Instead of being detained, some immigrants would need to check in with agents or wear ankle bracelets.
In total, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would receive $124.5 million. This amount includes $60.5 million earmarked for immigration judges and additional legal services. The amount will allow an estimated 20,000 immigrant children to have legal counsel.
Agreeing on an number will undoubtedly be difficult. “Many Republicans have said they would not support funding for the border crisis without conditions,” but Democrats argue that making revisions to the 2008 law at issue “would threaten due process for minors who have legitimate claims to remain in the United States.”
Further adding to the stress of the situation is the fact that the majority of lawmakers want to have a resolution before Congress takes it recess in August. If the two sides cannot reach a compromise, the issue will have to be revisited after a month-long break. Being forced to wait an additional month could lead to further problems.