The acting heads of the Pentagon and Homeland Security will head to the border this weekend to draw attention to the growing crisis, where officials say the government could run out of money unless Congress approves President Trump’s $4.5 billion emergency request.
The fiscal year ends Sept. 30 but given current trends which show a steadily increasing number of children and families attempting to sneak in, Homeland Security says it will exhaust its money to deal with the border situation well before then.
A law enforcement source said acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be in Texas to review the border situation on Saturday. It’ll be Mr. McAleenan’s third trip since being named acting secretary last month.
They’ll be briefed at a Border Patrol station, look at a facility where migrants are processed, look at a section of border wall, and will muster with National Guard troops and border authorities.
“The problem we face is huge, short term fixes will not cut it, and we need sustained investment and additional emergency support at the Southwest border to overcome the humanitarian and security crisis. The president’s budget will do that,” Mr. McAleenan said.
Democrats, many of whom who earlier this year rejected the notion of a border “crisis,” now embrace the word — though some have balked at the emergency funding request, saying they don’t want to be complicit in his attempts to vigorously enforce immigration laws.
Yet a majority of the president’s funding request will go to pay for caring for the unaccompanied children, who are sent to the federal Health Department and placed in dorms while the government searches for sponsors.
About $1.1 billion will go to Homeland Security, with $391 million for better facilities, transportation and basic food and supplies the families consume.
Another $530 million is designated for operations, such as funding more detention beds to deal with an accompanying surge of single adults who are also testing the border alongside the children and families.
A final $178 million is for “mission support,” such as incentives to keep Border Patrol agents from fleeing the agency amid the crisis.
Democrats are irked after Mr. Trump signed a broader funding bill earlier this year with only a fraction of his border wall money, then immediately declared a border emergency to siphon money from Pentagon accounts to build more wall than Congress approved.
House Democrats are working on one bill trying to claw back that cash.
But Homeland Security officials testified this week that the $4.5 billion request is separate from that.
The Health Department has warned it would run out of cash to handle the unaccompanied children next month. It would have to dip into accounts for refugees and for combatting human trafficking if it doesn’t get more from Congress.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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