The New York Post reported on the remarks Trump made about the father-daughter deaths as he was leaving Washington on June 26 for the G20 Summit in Japan.
“I hate it, and it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the laws,” Trump said. “And that father who was probably a wonderful guy with his daughter, things like that wouldn’t happen.”
Trump added that it is very dangerous to cross the Rio Grande.
The bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his almost 2-year-old daughter Valeria were captured washed up on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, on June 24. The two had drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Texas.
According to Reuters, the pair were seeking asylum in the United States. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the 25-year-old man’s mother, Rosa Ramírez, said they sought to stay in the United States for economic reasons—which would not be a valid reason for asylum.
“If we had the right laws, that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people wouldn’t be coming up, they wouldn’t be trying,” Trump said. “The asylum policy of the Democrats is responsible.”
“[The Democrats] said it was not a crisis at the Border, that it was all just ‘manufactured.'” Trump tweeted June 26. “Now they admit that I was right—But they must do something about it. Fix the Laws NOW!”
The Democrats should change the Loopholes and Asylum Laws so lives will be saved at our Southern Border. They said it was not a crisis at the Border, that it was all just “manufactured.” Now they admit that I was right – But they must do something about it. Fix the Laws NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019
Competing Bills in House, Senate to Address Border Crisis
While Democrats in Congress are no longer calling the conditions at the southern border a manufactured crisis, it has still taken Congress almost two months to even consider legislation to do anything about it.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been expressing concern about the increase in the number of people attempting to enter the United States at the southern border since March, and the White House submitted a request for emergency funding (pdf) on May 1.
The GOP-controlled Senate passed a $4.5 billion humanitarian aid package at a vote of 84-8 on June 26. The Senate Appropriations Committee had earlier on June 19 approved this compromise package with nearly unanimous consent at a 30-1 vote.
The Democratic-led House had introduced on June 21 a competing bill that would give $4.5 billion for humanitarian relief at the border. The House on June 25 voted 230-195 along party lines to pass this bill, despite a veto threat from Trump. On the same day, the Senate voted down the House bill in a 37-55 vote.
Pelosi said on June 26 that she would not bring the Senate bill for a vote in the House.
“They passed their bill, we respect that. We passed our bill, we hope they will respect that. And if there’s some improvements that we think can be reconciled,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
Pelosi is considering a fresh vote Thursday, June 27.
Democrats lumped in a series of last-minute changes to appease the far-left wing of the party into voting for the measure. The additions include a requirement for CBP to enact health standards for detainees.
Democratic leaders are set to convene early June 27 and Pelosi’s spokesman says they plan to push the amended measure through the House quickly.
Lawmakers pushed to get Trump to sign the bill before heading to a weeklong Independence Day recess, but with Pelosi’s stance, no bill will likely be agreed on until after the break.
According to The Hill, Senate Republicans signaled on June 26 that they intend to force Democrats into accepting the Senate bill.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters that a conference between both chambers to come up with a compromise was not a “viable” option.
“The House knows that they can’t get a signature on their bill, and most of what they want is in our bill and ours is a bipartisan bill,” Thune said, according to The Hill.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the House bill is “inadequate.”
“If people are sincere … I don’t know why they would want to delay this,” Cornyn said, according to The Hill.
Both House and Senate measures contain more than $1 billion to shelter and feed illegal immigrants detained by the border patrol and almost $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
But the House bill failed to address a $61 million pay shortfall and $3.7 million in overtime pay for ICE. The bill also lacks funding for the Defense Department.
Pelosi called President Donald Trump before he departed for the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, with an appeal to make changes. Trump seemed open, but it’s unclear if the Senate will accept any amendments without assurances from the White House that Trump will sign the measure into law. Both chambers are racing the clock to come to an agreement before leaving town for a weeklong recess.
Trump said passing the legislation was urgent. “We are moving along very well with a bipartisan bill in the Senate,” he said. “It’s very far along and I believe the House is also going to also be getting together with the Senate to get something done. It’s humanitarian aid. It’s very important.”
Growing Border Crisis
CBP in early June released the number of migrants showing up at the southern border; a 13-year high of 144,278 in May, up from 109,474 in April and 103,729 in March. A growing number of those are family units and unaccompanied children.
CBP continues to face a worsening crisis at the Southwest border. In May, CBP apprehended or deemed inadmissible 144,278 individuals along the SWB—a 32% increase over the previous month. Details here: https://t.co/ru9AsalgPb pic.twitter.com/p8kcr5lZ7Y
— CBP (@CBP) June 5, 2019
Trump had said earlier that Democrats have forced him to take action against Mexico by way of tariff threats because they had not been willing to fix loopholes in U.S. immigration laws that are fueling the immigration crisis.
“Border arrests for May are at 133,000 because of Mexico & the Democrats in Congress refusing to budge on immigration reform,” he wrote on Twitter on June 5.
HHS, which is responsible for unaccompanied children, says the number of children already “greatly exceeds” its capacity, according to a letter signed by McAleenan and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
As of June 10, 1,900 unaccompanied minors were in CBP custody awaiting placement. However, HHS had fewer than 700 open beds and so had to keep them in CBP care.
“My facilities were never built to house this demographic,” Carla Provost, the head of U.S. Border Patrol, told a House Homeland Security Committee on June 20.
She said the agency was going to have to dip into its operating budget to provide basic necessities for the influx of people.
She also begged for funding for the other agencies—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), HHS, and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
HHS has said it could run out of funding as soon as the end of the month if Congress doesn’t act.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on June 20 that he hoped the whole Senate would vote on the final legislation and funding by the end of the month. He urged the House to do the same.
Holly Kellum, Ivan Pentchoukov, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.