Pelosi presses Trump to make changes to treatment of migrants at border

Pelosi presses Trump to make changes to treatment of migrants at border
© Aaron Schwartz

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (D-Calif.) is calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE to adopt the changes to migrant detention policies that House Democrats proposed in their version of a border funding bill but were not included in the final legislation passed last week.  

The letter to Trump, released publicly Tuesday, comes amid growing outrage over over conditions faced by migrants detained at the southern border — which was bolstered after Democrats raised alarms while inspecting facilities there this week.

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Pelosi urged Trump to take specific "immediate actions" as proposed in House Democrats' initial bill and highlighted three policy changes lawmakers sought in last week's negotiations over a $4.5 billion package to provide resources for agencies handling the influx of migrants at the border. The actions include directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to swiftly establish health and safety standards for migrants in government custody, such as provisions for water, hygiene and nutrition. 

"In our conversations, you and the Vice President said our 30 day timeline to establish final plans was not achievable but did not offer an alternate deadline. There must be a date certain to establish plans that utilize the expertise of organizations, including the American Association of Pediatrics, which have outlined standards of care for children in the care of DHS," Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi also called for ensuring migrant children aren't in influx shelters for more than 90 days and that the Department of Health and Human Services notify Congress within 24 hours if a child dies in its custody.

"I would deeply appreciate your soonest consideration of the proposals contained in the House legislation," Pelosi wrote.

House Democrats sought to include stricter standards for migrants in holding facilities in any legislation to meet the Trump administration's request for emergency funding.

They argued that the Senate version of the bill, which was produced by bipartisan negotiators, didn't go far enough. Still, the bill passed the upper chamber by a vote of 84-8 with most Senate Democrats supporting it. With the Trump administration warning that funds would run dry in early July and time running short before Congress was scheduled to start its July 4 recess, House Democrats ultimately caved and passed the Senate bill. 

More than a dozen lawmakers visited a migrant holding facility in Clint, Texas, on Monday and reported seeing migrants in overcrowded and inhumane conditions. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasts Tucker Carlson as 'white supremacist sympathizer' Julián Castro jabs ICE: 'Delete your account' MORE (D-N.Y.) said some women in the facility told her that agents suggested they drink water from a toilet bowl.

Democrats' visit came on the same day ProPublica published an investigation on a Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents filled with derogatory posts about migrants and lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez.

Customs and Border Protection has opened an investigation into the Facebook group. 

The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced Tuesday that it will hold a hearing next week to hear testimony from Trump administration officials about the treatment of migrant children.