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Senate panel OKs aid to ease migrant surge at southern border

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) asks a question as then Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford testify before a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on the proposed FY2020 budget for the Defense Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved $4.6 billion in largely humanitarian aid to address a surge of migrants at the southern U.S. border with Mexico, with a vote expected in the full Senate as soon as next week.

The legislation does not contain money for Republican President Donald Trump’s border wall construction, and Democrats said it included provisions that would keep the Trump administration from raiding the funds to be used for the wall.

The Trump administration had sought the money last month for programs that house, feed, transport and oversee record numbers of Central American families seeking asylum and straining capacity at migrant shelters in border cities.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican, said on Wednesday that more than 675,000 illegal immigrants had entered the country so far this year, citing Department of Homeland Security numbers.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said lawmakers needed to take action, noting the “deplorable” conditions for migrant families at the border, some of whom are being forced to sleep under bridges or are being placed in outdoor pens without shelter.


19th June 2019

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