July 31, 2014
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers spoke on the House floor today in support of H.R. 5230, a bill providing supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2014 to address the immigration crisis at the Southwestern border.
The text of his prepared statement follows:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present H.R. 5230, which provides immediate, short-term funding to address the Southwest border crisis.
"In total, this bill provides $659 million to meet urgent border security and humanitarian needs for this fiscal year ending on September 30.
"Thousands of illegal immigrants – including unaccompanied children – have flooded our borders and overwhelmed our current facilities and personnel. This includes a staggering number of children – arriving with no family – who are being smuggled across our borders by criminal organizations, subject to violence and abuse.
"We need to put safeguards in place to prevent them from taking this dangerous journey, as well as provide the resources needed to take care of them and process them appropriately.
"The President must take the lead on this by mitigating this crisis, turning back the tide of illegal immigrants, and fully enforcing our laws. This problem has without a doubt been exacerbated by the Administration’s policies on immigration, and it is up to the Administration to find a way to fix that problem.
"In the meantime, however, it’s plain that something must be done to ensure that our law enforcement personnel and federal agencies have the resources needed to deal with this dire situation in the short term.
"The $659 million in funding in this bill focuses on three areas – border security, humanitarian assistance, and prevention – to meet the most pressing needs.
"Of this total, $462 million is provided to increase security and enforce our laws, boosting personnel and increasing detention space to the largest capacity in history.
"Part of this funding will help accelerate judicial proceedings by increasing the number of temporary judges and outfitting all immigration courtrooms across the nation with teleconferencing equipment.
"And we have doubled existing funding for the National Guard to bolster their presence along our border as they assist Customs and Border Protection with surveillance, investigations, and humanitarian effort
"The bill also provides $197 million to take care of unaccompanied children, ensuring they have proper housing, meals, and temporary care while they are in U.S. custody.
"Third, to stave off the continued influx of illegal immigration, the bill redirects existing State Department funding to ensure that countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador must quickly accept and repatriate those returning from the U.S.
"This bill draws a hard line on spending – scrubbing the President’s request to focus on the most immediate needs. It does not include funding for longer-term needs or unnecessary programs, like cash subsidies for coffee farmers. Any additional funding for this crisis can and should be addressed under the regular appropriations process.
"In addition, to make sure that this bill doesn’t add a penny to our deficit, every dollar spent is fully offset by making non-controversial rescissions of unused, excess, prior-year funds.
"Lastly, the bill includes several policy provisions recommended by the “Speaker’s Working Group on the Border Crisis,” led by the Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Kay Granger.
"This includes a change to a 2008 law to ensure that all unaccompanied minors arriving in this country are treated the same as Mexicans and Canadians for the purpose of removal.
"It also strengthens the law prohibiting immigration status to criminals convicted of serious drug crimes, and prohibits the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from restricting CBP apprehension activities on federal land.
"And it expresses Congressional intent that detained aliens awaiting processing should not be housed on military installations.
"This is a good bill that will address the most immediate needs while putting into place much needed policy changes that should help stop the flow of unaccompanied children who are being put at risk during their long, dangerous journeys.
"It is our congressional duty to quickly pass this bill in short order, and I ask that all Members support it today. Thank you, and I yield back."