Senate Democrats Prep $2.7 Billion Bill for Immigration Crisis

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 11:09 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Senate Democrats are embarking on legislation for a $2.7 billion package that would address the illegal immigration crisis for the remainder of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The bill, to be introduced Wednesday by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, is smaller than the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama requested over  15 months  on the basis that lawmakers feel emergency funding can only be justified through the end of the calendar year.

The bill will not include a change to the 2008 law preventing deportation of migrant minors without a court hearing, which many Republicans, as well as the White House, have suggested would help solve the problem.

Democratic lawmakers continue to focus on protecting migrants' legal rights, and in line with that emphasis, the bill will allocate $50 billion for legal services for migrant children, more than the $15 million requested by the Obama administration, according to the Journal.

The legislation would also provide more funding than requested by the White House to hire 50 new immigration judges.

Meanwhile, the bill would meet the president's request for $300 million for the State Department but would give less to the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security departments since the time frame for funding is shorter.

Specifically, HHS would receive $1.2 billion to care for the children, while Homeland Security would be allocated $1.1 billion to detain families and children at the border, as well as for their transportation and deportation, the Journal reported.

The bill also tags on a request by the administration for $225 million for Israel's anti-missile defense system and $615 million in separate funding for emergency wildfire suppression activities.

Republicans in both chambers are expected to take issue with the proposals.

"It's too much money still," Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the appropriations panel, told the Journal. He added that he would oppose any legislation that didn't change the 2008 law, which House Republicans have also said.

"It would be more money, same problem, if we don't change, the law," he said.

House Republicans are expected to start working on their own proposals to address the border crisis and will likely grant significantly less than the $3.7 billion the administration requested, according to the Journal.

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