Stefanik: ‘no’ on Congress’ migrant camp funding; supports Senate’s bill instead with OT for agents

Rep. Elise Stefanik delivers her victory speech late on the night of Nov. 6, 2018, at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls. (Photo — Jenn March, for the Post-Star)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik voted against a $4.5 billion appropriations bill that passed Congress Tuesday evening, which allocated money for the overcrowded, under-resourced migrant detention centers on the U.S. southern border, saying the bill was partisan and supporting the Senate bill which passed Wednesday afternoon.

“This is not a bipartisan bill,” Stefanik said, adding that it does not supply overtime pay for Customs and Border Control officers. “(It) targets our Customs and Border Control in a punitive way. … I represent CBP officers along the northern border and all our personnel, whether it’s on the northern or southern border, deserved to be paid when they’re working overtime.”

The House bill passed 230-195, with some Democrats — including Alexandria Ostacio-Cortez, D-Bronx, whom Stefanik has debated about border camps with — opposing it, wanting to also ban private shelter contractors who they said failed to provide food, hygiene and medical care to migrants under their care.

The bill comes after weeks of reporting on dirty, unhealthy and sometimes deadly conditions and lapses of medical care in the southern border camps. On Tuesday, Acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders also resigned after doctors and lawyers visiting a Texas facility holding hundreds of children reported on the lack of hygiene, medical assistance and supplies they saw.

This House bill would put more than $1 billion toward housing and feeding migrants detained, and almost $3 billion caring for unaccompanied children.

The $4.6 billion Senate bill, which passed 84-8, has less restrictions on how the money should be spent, but includes spending for more realms of immigration agencies.

Stefanik said the House bill places limitations on Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“ICE is very important in making sure that we have the rule of law and a legal immigration system,” Stefanik said.

She also said Congress’ bill does not provide enough funding for immigration courts, saying that there is now a five-year waiting period for some citizenship-seekers to have their case heard.

“While there are provisions that I support in the Democratic House bill, including increasing funding for access to health, nutritional, hygiene and sanitation needs for unaccompanied children at the border, (Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi’s partisan bill falls short,” Stefanik wrote in an official statement. “It cuts overtime pay for our border personnel, fails to fund investigations of human traffickers smuggling unaccompanied children across the border, fails to fund immigration judges and courtroom needs to process these cases, and limits ICE’s authority to deploy officers to the border.”

The Senate rejected the House bill and if the House also passes the bipartisan Senate bill it is likely to get support from President Donald Trump.

“There is going to be an enormous pressure for Speaker Pelosi to bring up the Senate bill after it passes today and she needs to show leadership,” Stefanik said, urging House passage of the Senate’s bill.

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