Policy Summary

The White House has recently asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funds for the US Southern Border. Of this $4.5 billion, $3.3 billion would be dedicated to humanitarian assistance (housing unaccompanied migrant children, feed and care for migrants in custody, and staff processing centers), $1.1 billion for border operations (personnel expenses, detention beds, transportation, and investigative work), and $178 million for mission support (additional personnel, technology upgrade, and pay adjustments). The requests for additional funding have specified that said money would not be used to build additional miles of wall and would play no part in contributing to Trump’s wall. A large portion of this funding would greatly increase the capacity of the Department of Health and Human services to better care for unaccompanied children, especially by providing additional beds.

In 2018, Customs and Border Patrol dealt with over 50,000 unaccompanied children and so far in 2019, there have been just over 35,000. The average length of stay in a government shelter has been 66 days, which is significantly higher than previous years and requires adjustments to be made to humanely house all these individuals. The acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan stated before a House of Representatives subcommittee that his department would be running out of money due to the spike of migrants crossing the southern border very soon and was in desperate need of additional financial assistance.

This resolution has been deemed unlikely to pass, but the acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Russel Vought, has warned that other funds within the Department of Health and Human Services – that is ideally used for refugees and victims of human trafficking and torture – might need to be tapped into if their requests are not fulfilled by Congress.


The air of desperation in the White House’s request for funding plays a large but concerning role in how the Democratic Caucus reacts to the demands. Many are torn and for good reason. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, there has been an ever-growing level of distrust, consistently being reinforced by various anti-immigration policies and rhetoric. Many Democrats are torn between being vehemently against feeding into Trump’s demands and taking part of the cleanup, while others feel it is also their duty to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA), exclaimed, “so you create chaos, and then ask for more money?” Similarly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) proclaimed, “this administration has not proven itself worthy of one more dollar.” In many regards, this sentiment is shared not only among the Democratic Caucus but also the American public who have lost hope as the Trump Administration has been eroding confidence in the immigration system over the past few years.

Due to the increase in unaccompanied children crossing the border – as well as the 3 minor deaths in US Custody since December – the situation presents itself as a huge problem in which Democrats will have to decide if they will gawk or look away.

Engagement Resources

  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.

FWD.us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration

Photo by unsplash-logoJonathan Adeline

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