House approves $4.5 billion bill to address emergency at southern border

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WASHINGTON (WIVB) — The House of Representatives has approved a $4.5 billion bill to address what Rep. Brian Higgins’ office calls “the humanitarian emergency at the southern border.”

“The treatment this Administration is providing to human beings desperately fleeing their homes in hope of safety and refuge in America is unconscionable and does not reflect the values this nation upholds,” Higgins said. “This bill provides funding to restore the rights and dignity that all people deserve and this country should be defending.”

The bill includes more than $1.3 billion for Customs and Border Protection. That consists of $92 million for food, water, sanitary items and blankets, and $20 million for medical support.

It also includes the following programs:

  • $60 million for the Emergency Food & Shelter Program through FEMA
  • $2.9 billion for Refugee and Entrant Assistance ($866 million for shelters in the Office of Refugee Resettlement, $100 million for unaccompanied children legal services and advocate programs, $9 million for additional field specialists)
  • $17 million for the Legal Orientation Program

The legislation also requires monthly reports on unaccompanied children who were separated from their parents and 24-hour reporting of the deaths of unaccompanied children.

The northern U.S. border was also addressed in the bill. Higgins says it will ensure that staffing there doesn’t fall below what’s dictated in the 2018 Northern Border Strategy.

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