Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is urging the House to approve nearly $2 billion in funding to help deal with the more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed the border this year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve the funding last month at the administration's request — an increase of more than $1 billion from past years.
The money would be used for shelter and services for the huge influx of children crossing the border, mostly coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Feinstein said the bill also dedicates funding for child advocates and legal services for the unaccompanied minors.
"Federal agencies must also make it a priority to protect these minors from mistreatment, both while they are in the government's custody and when they are released into the hands of family members or sponsors," she wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
Feinstein said the United States has to take a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the “humanitarian crisis.”
She applauded the administration for attempting to speed up immigration proceedings by increasing lawyers eligible to handle the cases.
The rise in unaccompanied children crossing the border has nearly doubled since this time last year. The increase has been blamed on a rise violence in those three countries and misinformation being spread about U.S. immigration policy.
She said the State Department has to play a more aggressive role in those countries, and the U.S. should "crack down" on human smugglers, who have been blamed for spreading the false perception about U.S. policy.
"The leaders of these Central American countries bear responsibility too," she wrote. "They should immediately begin working to dispel widespread misinformation that all children entering the United States will be allowed to stay in the country indefinitely."