Homeland spending bill advances with child migrant fund praised

The 2015 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security cleared a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday evening amid bipartisan praise for the bill’s attempt to address a surge in child migrants from Mexico.

The $39.2 billion bill provides nearly $900 million more for the DHS than the Obama administration sought and focuses budget increases on border security. 

The bill includes $76.9 million for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency so it can safely transport child migrants to health services facilities where they can be cared for.

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“It’s an ongoing crisis,” Homeland Security subcommittee Chairman John Carter (R-Texas) said.

His bill’s attempt to address the issue won praise from Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

Full Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the number of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border has jumped 10-fold from 6,600 at the turn of the century to 60,000 today.

“Sadly, there is no leadership in the administration,” Rogers said.

Democrats said they were largely on board with the DHS bill. Ranking member David Price (D-N.C.) voted for it but said too much would be spent on ICE detention beds.

Price noted that, although he feels the DHS bill got enough money, that adequate allocation means other domestic agencies will come up short, including housing and health programs.

Full Committee ranking member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said she was concerned the bill would attract unwelcome amendments.

Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) successfully amended the DHS spending bill to boost deportations of so-called Dreamer immigrants — adults who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children. Advocates argue that many of them have turned out to be law abiding and productive members of society later and should be given a path to citizenship. 

“This is a reasonable bill that I hope will remain free of poison-pill riders,” Lowey said. 

The DHS spending bill now heads for a full committee markup slated for June.