Democrats have been quietly backing away from calling the crisis at the United States’ southern border, “manufactured,” according to The Hill, as they work to control the fallout from ignoring what has now grown into a humanitarian crisis, as they’ve refused to authorize further funding.
Starting in early 2019, Democrats, sensing that the Trump administration was shifting its budget ask from the border wall to detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border, began referring to the sudden influx of Central American migrants as a “manufactured crisis” brought on by the Trump administration’s refusal to allow asylum seekers into the country while awaiting adjudication of their claims.
But after several rounds of testimony from Department of Homeland Security officials, and several months where the number of migrants presenting themselves at border checkpoints (or being caught sneaking into the United States somewhere along the southern border) has topped 100,000, Democrats have begun to back down from using the issue to score political points — at least on the floor of Congress.
“In recent weeks it’s gotten clearer and clearer there is a dramatic humanitarian crisis, again, at the border,” Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) told the Washington, D.C. based newsmagazine, defending the flip-flop. “The phrase manufactured crisis could be misunderstood as suggesting it’s not a real crisis. It is a real crisis. There are people actually suffering. There are children dying. There are families in distress. It is a crisis. The phrase ‘manufactured’ I think was used by some to emphasize the president’s role in making it worse.”
The Hill also reports that lawmakers are, in fact, taking a bipartisan approach to easing the situation at the border, and that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who once dismissed the border issues as fear-mongering from the White House, will sit down this week with Republican leaders to merge a series of bills both sides have been working on, increasing funding to the United States Customs and Border Patrol.
PBS News reports that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), have also been hard at work on a compromise proposal that promises at least $4.5 billion in additional resources dedicated specifically to helping the border patrol house and caring for the hundreds of thousands of migrants currently waiting for a hearing on their asylum claims.
Another committee is set to meet this week to handle $1.3 trillion in DHS-related expenses tied to the 2020 federal budget, and will likely also address concerns that border facilities have gone underfunded for far too long.
Both sides told PBS that getting a final bill through Congress “won’t be easy.” Republicans fear that Democrats will try to add a “poison pill” to the final funding bill increasing the number of migrants allowed to enter the United States; Democrats are concerned that a final funding bill will come with drastic immigration restrictions, since the Republicans’ top immigration priority is, ultimately, cutting off illegal immigration.
What’s most interesting, though, is the stark difference between Congress’ cooler, more experienced legislators and newcomers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who hasn’t appeared at all interested in helping to reach a deal to end the burgeoning humanitarian crisis at the border. Instead, she and her more progressive colleagues have spent much of this week accusing the Trump administration and Republicans of running “concentration camps” and substituting Twitter activism for legislative activity.