Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Bill Demanding A Strategy To Combat Border Surge

(HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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Lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to draft a strategy to manage the surge of migrants at the southern border in order to unlock new emergency funds.

The bill, crafted by New York Republican Rep. John Katko and Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, titled the Border Surge Response and Resilience Act, mandates that DHS outline specific metrics that would trigger their response plan. It reflects growing bipartisan concerns that the surge of migrants may lead to a humanitarian crisis.

Once the plan is activated, DHS could pull $1 billion from the Migration Surge Border Response Fund as needed, meaning that the agency would not have to reallocate its own budget to pay for food, transportation or first-aid for the increasing number of migrants. (RELATED: Number Of Minor Detainees Has Tripled In Recent Weeks)

DONNA, TEXAS - MARCH 30: Young children lie inside a pod at the Department of Homeland Security holding facility run by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on March 30, 2021 in Donna, Texas. The Donna location is the main detention center for unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border in the Rio Grande Valley. The children are housed by the hundreds in eight pods that are about 3,200 square feet in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees. The Biden administration has just allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children. It is an overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families are kept in pods, with the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images)

Young children lie inside a pod at the Department of Homeland Security holding facility run by the Customs and Border Patrol on March 30, 2021 in Donna, Texas. Many of the pods have more than 500 children in them. (Dario Lopez-Mills – Pool/Getty Images)

“After hearing firsthand from border patrol agents, it’s clear they need interagency backup and accountability across the Federal Government to appropriately handle border surges,” Katko said in a joint statement. “Agents and officers on the frontlines are suffering through another crisis, in the midst of a global pandemic, and some still haven’t been vaccinated.”

“We need greater confidence that the Federal Government can manage these crises going forward. This bill would do just that,” Katko said.

“It is critical that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proactive and develops a strategy to adequately manage large migration flows at our southern border,” Cuellar said in a joint statement. “This bipartisan legislation will allow the federal government to employ a whole-of-government approach to create a response framework that anticipates migration surges, allowing them to quickly shift resources and take immediate action to mitigate a humanitarian crisis.”

While migrant surges have occurred in the past, DHS projections, first reported by Axios, show that the current increase could last for over seven months, with as many as 26,000 unaccompanied children reaching the border by September 2021 alone. The increase means the government would need an extra 34,000 beds by September to meet the surge in unaccompanied minors.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March that crossings were on pace to hit a 20-year high, even as the U.S. expelled the majority of single adults and families.

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