Jun 25, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The migrant kids crisis

Migrant detention center

Children gathered in the largest migrant detention center for children in the U.S., Homestead, Florida. Photo: Gianrigo Marletta/AFP/Getty Images

The fallout over reports of migrant children being housed in squalid conditions at a detention center in Texas reached new heights today, with a paralyzed Washington looking increasingly unlikely to do anything about it — at least in the short term.

Driving the news: Officials confirmed Tuesday that over 100 children had been returned to the center in question because of a lack of bed space and funding at other facilities, WashPost reports. Hours later, news of acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner John Sanders' resignation went public.

  • Sanders will be replaced by acting ICE director Mark Morgan, who told CBS News in an interview Tuesday that he does not believe ICE detention centers are facing a "systemic problem."
  • Morgan has previously praised Trump's hardline border policies in television interviews and congressional testimony — calling for more aggressive executive action on immigration and criticizing longstanding U.S. law and nationwide injunctions.

Catch up quick: On Monday, hundreds of migrant children were moved out of a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where lawyers say they found inadequate food and water, kids being deprived of soap, blankets and toothbrushes, and flu and lice outbreaks going untreated, according to AP.

  • The revelations set off outrage from Democrats and activists who viewed it as yet another failure of the Trump administration to handle the massive influx of migrants with compassion and compliance with federal statutes.
  • In an interview with AP days before his resignation, Sanders acknowledged that the children needed better care. He said that the number of migrants in the custody of Border Patrol is 11,000 over capacity and urged Congress to pass an emergency aid package.

The big picture: The chaos of the past week has underscored some of the real-world effects of a paralyzed Washington.

  • The House will vote on a $4.5 billion emergency funding bill this afternoon that would appropriate $934.5 million for "processing facilities, food, water, sanitary items, blankets, medical services, and safe transportation," per ABC.
  • Nancy Pelosi has spent the last 48 hours trying to whip votes from progressives in her caucus, who have sought to block Trump from using the funds to implement his hardline immigration policies.
  • "We cannot continue to throw money at a dysfunctional system," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) said yesterday. "We are not just asking for simple changes to be made into this bill, but to go back to the drawing board and really address this from a humanitarian issue."

Between the lines, via Vox's Dara Lind: "The problem isn’t the Clint facility. The problem is the hastily-cobbled-together system of facilities Customs and Border Protection has thrown together in the last several months, as the unprecedented number of families and children coming into the US without papers has overwhelmed a system designed to swiftly deport single adults."

What to watch: Trump has already threatened to veto the House package, accusing Democrats of undermining his efforts at the border — even while acknowledging that conditions at detention centers are "terrible."

  • Even without Trump's veto, Democrats and Republicans will have just three days to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the bill before their 4th of July recess. Trump says his "mass deportation" threat will return in two weeks if a solution isn't reached.

Go deeper: Illustrated guide of what happens when migrant kids cross the border

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