CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bipartisan agreement involving billions of dollars for border security efforts is a sign Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate are taking border security seriously, according to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a $4.6 billion spending plan for addressing problems at the southern border, primarily focused on the rise of Central American families trying to enter the United States.
The committee passed the bill in a 30-1 vote, with Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley voting in opposition.
“Now, Democrats and Republicans are saying this is a humanitarian and security crisis. The word ‘crisis’ was used by the Democrats several times yesterday in our debate, which is good,” Capito said.
The spending package sets aside $793 million for establishing migrant care and processing facilities, $145 million for military operations and $50 million for improving data systems and other tools.
According to Capito, 133,000 people crossed the southern border in May with the majority of people coming as part of a family. The U.S. Border Patrol reports more than 593,000 have been apprehended at the border since October.
“Our system is not of detention and humanitarian care,” she said. “It’s not designed to care for children. It’s set up for what it was set up for in the ’90s and the ’80s, which was mostly adult males from Mexico.”
Capito, who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee, said Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is planning to introduce legislation to overhaul the country’s immigration system.
“We need to reform the asylum claims and the application process,” Capito said.
The senator is also concerned about children coming with people who are not their parents, as well as unaccompanied minors.
“You can’t hold children for more than 20 days, so we’re seeing people coming across the border with children because they know in 20 days, they’re going to be released into the United States as they wait for their court case to come up, which can take years.”
Capito said Graham is holding off on introducing the bill in order to secure bipartisan support.