VOA’s Aline Barros contributed to this article.
The U.S. Congress passed a $4.6 billion aid package this week to address a surge in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The legislation was passed by a bipartisan vote in both the House and Senate, and President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign it into law.
Here is what is in the bill:
— The vast majority of the funding allocated by the bill — almost $3 billion — will be used to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
— Another $1.5 billion is to be used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), largely to shelter and feed migrants who are detained by border patrol, according to acting Secretary of DHS Kevin McAleenan. He said the money will be invested in additional temporary facilities, transportation, medical care, consumables and surge operations related to the care of migrants in custody.
“We intend to move very quickly to apply this funding to support our teams managing the crisis on the border and enhancing conditions for families and children in CBP custody,” McAleenan said Friday during a press conference at DHS headquarters in Washington.
— The bill also includes more than $110 million in overtime funding for Customs and Border Protection employees who are dealing with the migrant surge at the border. The Border Patrol says monthly totals of migrants crossing the border have begun topping 100,000 per month for the first time since 2007.
— One provision in the bill, which initially met resistance in the Democratic-controlled House, is a $145 million allocation to the Department of Defense to fund military assistance along the border, including medical aid, surveillance operations and facility maintenance.
— The bill does not include additional protections for migrants that some House Democrats had argued for, including health standards for facilities holding migrants and a three-month time limit for child migrants to spend at intake shelters.
Also Friday, McAleenan said he is anticipating a significant reduction of border crossings in June, “up to 25% when compared to May.”
He associated the crackdown with the work between the United States and Mexican authorities on Central American migrants and the amplification of policies such as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which required asylum-seekers to wait outside U.S. territory for their immigration court hearings.
Migration patterns tend to decrease during summer months, but McAleenan said he expected a decline larger than usually predicted.