Durbin: Senate Has Responsibility To Address Humanitarian Crisis President Trump Has Created At Southwest Border

WASHINGTON – In today’s Senate Appropriations Committee markup, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, supported reporting to the floor a bipartisan funding agreement to address the humanitarian crisis that President Donald Trump has created at our southwest border.  The bill includes funding to alleviate overcrowding at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities and provide food, supplies, and medical care to migrants.  It also includes funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to care for migrant children.  However, Durbin noted that he hopes the bill will be improved before it is brought to the floor for a vote and is withholding judgment on how he will vote on the floor.  

“I’m reluctant to provide any funding to this Administration, to promulgate this chaos.  But I know, as Senator Murray said earlier, this Committee has a responsibility to address the very real humanitarian crisis at our border,” Durbin said.  “I hope this bill will improve before it is brought to the floor for a vote.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with the members on this Committee on a bipartisan basis to do that.”

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

In today’s Committee markup, Durbin expressed several concerns he has with this bill.  Durbin is concerned that the bill could benefit for-profit companies that are already making millions from detention contracts.  The most egregious example is Caliburn International, which was awarded a $341 million no-bid contract to operate Homestead, the largest facility for unaccompanied children in the country.  Homestead is charging the government $750 per day for each child in detention.  Of note, former DHS Secretary John Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International. 

Durbin is also concerned that the bill includes $21 million for a DNA testing program for migrant families.  Currently, this DNA program is being distorted to claim that there is an overwhelming number of fraudulent migrant families.  He’s also concerned that this bill does not compel the President to end his mindless decision to block all assistance to the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.