June 26, 2019

Van Hollen Statement on Border Supplemental

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) submitted the following statement on the Senate border aid bill:


This morning, Americans woke up to a picture of a 25-year-old father lying facedown holding his infant daughter. They both drowned crossing the Rio Grande River.  The border policies implemented by this Administration have life or death consequences. Congress should be doing everything in its power to make sure that our southern border is safe and secure and that asylum seekers are treated with dignity and respect.

I share the horror of my constituents in Maryland about the squalid and inhumane conditions in which children are being held at the border. We have an obligation to provide resources to ensure the safety of these children. But this Administration has demonstrated only callousness towards migrants seeking asylum at our border, and we have an obligation as a coequal branch of government with the power of the purse to ensure that the resources we provide are spent responsibly and deliver real care. While I appreciate the guardrails that Senators Leahy and Shelby negotiated in this bill, I believe that the House-passed package has stronger restrictions that will better protect children and families at the border.

Also, as I said to my colleagues when we marked up this bill, I have serious concerns with this Administration’s repeated practice of transferring funding from the purpose that we appropriate to meet its own ends. Today, a group of constituents stopped by my office seeking reassurance that this funding would not be used for interior enforcement. They were understandably fearful of the President’s threats of widespread raids and mass deportations. While this bill prohibits transfers within DHS on this supplemental funding, I cannot fully reassure my constituents because the Administration could still transfer other FY19 funds to support its draconian immigration agenda.

I have visited the border, and I have seen the tragedy the President’s policies have created there. His family separation policy is a dark mark on our nation’s history. His Justice Department has argued that toothbrushes, soap, and even sleep are not necessary for the wellbeing of children. It is clear that Congress cannot simply trust this Administration to do the right thing.

I urge my colleagues to work to include the stronger House-passed restrictions to protect children’s safety, and to strengthen restrictions on reprogramming as we continue our appropriations process.