Senate lawmakers are proposing a bill to provide nearly $2 billion to manage the "humanitarian crisis" triggered by an unprecedented influx of 47,000 immigrant children who have poured across the Mexican border over the past eight months.
The $1.94 billion allocation is contained in a bill unveiled Tuesday by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Committee calling for $157 billion overall — almost $1 billion more than the House has allocated for its measure, set to appear in July, The Hill
"This is an urgent humanitarian crisis," Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said, according to The Hill.
As part of the deal, the administration would have to report back to Congress with a plan to deal with the surge of child migrants.
According to Customs and Border Protection, agents have apprehended about 47,000 children from Central America crossing the border into the U.S. illegally without an adult, the Arizona Republic
The total could reach 90,000 this year, the agency estimates.
"Half of them are fleeing for their lives," Fulbright scholar Elizabeth Kennedy told the newspaper.
The Obama administration has said most of the children pouring into the United States are escaping from violence in Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras.
The Department of Health and Human Services is legally required to feed and care for children after they're apprehended by border security officials. The Hill reported the Senate package is expected to cover the $2.33 billion in new funding the White House requested last month.
The funding will be paid for by cuts in other labor, health and human-services programs and changes in mandatory programs, The Hill reports.
The bill heads to a full committee Thursday.
Roll Call reports
that the surge of children from Central America overwhelmed federal resources in a matter of weeks.
The issue has taken a "partisan tone," Roll Call notes.
"The recent surge of children and teenagers from Central America showing up at our Southern border is an administration-made disaster," House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virgina said in a written statement last week, Roll Call reports.
"Word has gotten out around the world about President [Barack] Obama's lax immigration enforcement policies, and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America."
Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Charles Grassley of Iowa also have blamed the increase in migrants on Obama's immigration policies, which include deferring deportation for adults brought to the country when they were young, The Hill reports.
The White House has denied those claims.
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