While the number of migrants being dropped off in Uvalde has not reached the 25 per day forecast last month, the humanitarian crisis at our southern border has gone unchecked. In the last month alone, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector has detained thousands of family units, largely from Central America but also those fleeing far-flung nations in West Africa. Our city and county have done their part to secure transportation to San Antonio shelters for the 117 people dropped here so far, but it is high time the federal government stepped up to mitigate the problem.
To begin with, the border area needs a surge in judges to expedite the processing of migrants seeking asylum. If the processing could proceed apace, the bulk of asylum seekers would be returned to their home countries, since only about 20 percent of those who apply are ultimately granted the special status.
Now, however, thousands of people must be detained, housed and cared for until they can be released to seek shelter with family members or friends. At some point they will be called back to court to hear the outcome of their requests. This great circle of activity is a ludicrous waste of time and money.
True immigration reform, which would include a path to citizenship for U.S. born children of immigrants, a guest worker program that would fill thousands of jobs in agriculture that go begging each year and modernization of laws applying to asylum seekers, has eluded presidents of both parties.
And while that chasm is not likely to be bridged anytime soon, it is time for Congress to provide emergency funding for the present nightmare at the border. It has been more than 30 days since the current administration sent Congress a request for $4.5 billion in border assistance. Of that amount, $3.3 billion was earmarked for humanitarian purposes.
Partisan bickering and the reluctance of Democrats to acquiesce to any request for border spending from the Trump administration have stymied progress. Last week U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who represents our sprawling 23rd District, introduced an amendment to the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security funding bill that would add $30 million to be used for emergency food and shelter grants to local governments and NGOs. Democrats blocked the final amendment, thus delaying the much-needed funding.
We understand that Washington is a divided camp and there is blame on both sides for hamstringing programs that deserve to be adopted. In this case, it is time to bury the hatchet long enough to help people at our southern border and those who are doing the helping.