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WH Threatens to Veto Migrant Aid Bill  06/25 06:22

   The White House is threatening to veto a $4.5 billion House bill aimed at 
improving the treatment of migrant families detained after crossing the U.S. 
southern border, saying the measure would hamstring the administration's border 
security efforts and raising fresh questions about the legislation's fate.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is threatening to veto a $4.5 billion 
House bill aimed at improving the treatment of migrant families detained after 
crossing the U.S. southern border, saying the measure would hamstring the 
administration's border security efforts and raising fresh questions about the 
legislation's fate.

   The warning came as Hispanic and liberal Democrats press House leaders to 
add provisions to the legislation strengthening protections for migrant 
children, changes that might make the measure even less palatable to President 
Donald Trump. Though revisions are possible, House leaders are still hoping for 
approval as early as Tuesday.

   The Senate planned to vote this week on similar legislation that has 
bipartisan backing, but many House Democrats say the Senate version's 
provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough. House 
Democrats seeking changes met late Monday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

   "Right now, the goal is really to stop --- one death is just too much," said 
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., as he left that meeting.

   Many children detained entering the U.S. from Mexico have been held under 
harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer 
John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after 
being in the agency's care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 
people --- more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.

   Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 
recess. While lawmakers don't want to depart without acting on the legislation 
for fear of being accused of not responding to humanitarian problems at the 
border, it seems unlikely that Congress would have time to send a House-Senate 
compromise to Trump by week's end.

   In a letter Monday threatening the veto, White House officials told 
lawmakers they objected that the House package lacked money for beds the 
federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to let it detain more 
migrants. Officials also complained in the letter that the bill had no money to 
toughen border security, including funds for building Trump's proposed border 
wall.

   "Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current 
crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the 
Administration's border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its 
passage," the letter said.

   Several Democrats said some language they were seeking could end up in 
separate legislation. Several said changes might include provisions aimed at 
ensuring that detained children are treated humanely.

   "We've got lives at stake," said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif. He said the 
U.S. has been "the gold standard" for treating refugees fleeing dangerous 
countries, "and I don't think we should compromise that at all."

   The meeting may have helped ease Democratic complaints. Rep. Alexandria 
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters before the meeting that she would oppose 
the bill but left the door open afterward, saying, "I oppose the situation 
we're in, but my main goal is to keep kids from dying."

   Much of the legislation's money would help care for migrants at a time when 
federal officials say their agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of 
migrants and are running out of funds.

   The back-and-forth on the spending measure came as Congress' top Democrats 
criticized Trump for threatening coast-to-coast deportations of migrants.

   Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that he would give Congress two weeks to 
solve "the Asylum and Loopholes problems" along the border with Mexico. "If 
not, Deportations start!" he tweeted.

   The president had earlier warned that there would soon be a nationwide sweep 
aimed at "millions" of people living illegally in the U.S., including families. 
The sweeps were supposed to begin Sunday, but Trump said he postponed them.

   Pelosi, D-Calif., said the threatened raids were "appalling" when she was 
asked about them at an immigration event Monday in Queens, New York.

   "It is outside the circle of civilized human behavior, just kicking down 
doors, splitting up families and the rest of that in addition to the injustices 
that are happening at the border," she said.

   On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described 
Trump's "chilling, nasty, obnoxious threats" and said the president "seems far 
more comfortable terrorizing immigrant families" than addressing immigration 
problems.

   "I mean, my God, to threaten separating children from their parents as a 
bargaining chip? That's the very definition of callousness," Schumer said.

   It is not clear exactly what Trump, who has started his 2020 re-election 
bid, means regarding asylum and loophole changes. He's long been trying to 
restrict the numbers of people being allowed to enter the U.S. after claiming 
asylum and impose other restrictions, a path he's followed since he began his 
quest for president years ago. His threatened deportations came as authorities 
have been overwhelmed by a huge increase of migrants crossing the border into 
the U.S. in recent months.

   For years, Democrats and Republicans have unable to find middle ground on 
immigration that can pass Congress. It seems unlikely they will suddenly find a 
solution within two weeks.


(CZ)

 
 
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