WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a leading voice in addressing the current Central American refugee crisis on the southern border and staunch advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, voted in favor of S.2648, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. The bill failed on a procedural vote that would have allowed it to get a final up or down vote.
"Inaction is not a viable solution to this incredibly serious problem. It is absolutely irresponsible to believe that this humanitarian crisis will somehow fix itself. The proposal my colleagues voted down would have stemmed the current Central American refugee crisis, while continuing to treat these children humanely as required by the law," said Sen. Heinrich. "Instead of addressing the root causes and fixing our broken immigration system, too many people in Washington would rather exploit this crisis for election year gain. I have never been more disappointed in this Congress' failure to act."
The proposal included $2.73 billion to help address the current Central American refugee crisis. The bill would allow for the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to deploy additional enforcement resources -- including immigration judges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys, and asylum officers -- before their funding runs out.
Senator Heinrich had cosponsored an amendment to provide the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) with resources to bolster six Southern Command counter narcotics operation programs that currently lack the assets needed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as interdiction. Drug cartels in Central America are key players in the transnational organized crime network in Central America, fueling violence and corruption in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala; causing refugee children to flee to the U.S. southern border. Unfortunately, due to the procedural vote that caused the bill to fail, that amendment was never brought up for a vote.
The emergency supplemental bill also included $225 million for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense system as well as $615 million for the Department of Agriculture to reimburse funds that were transferred from critical forest health and fire preparedness programs to cover catastrophic wildfire suppression costs this summer.
"As our climate continues to warm, these catastrophic wildfires will only get bigger and more difficult to contain," said Sen. Heinrich. "Despite today's disappointing vote, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we address the humanitarian crisis, fix our broken immigration system, and provide critical funding needed to address the wildfires threatening too many communities in the West."