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US Senate Approves Funds to Address Humanitarian Crisis along US-Mexico Border

Inaction is simply not an option for those who care about alleviating the suffering of desperate children

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U.S. Border Patrol agents keep watch on a large group of migrants who they say were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, in El Paso, Texas, May 29, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved bipartisan legislation to address the humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border with more than $4 billion in supplemental funds and new requirements for the care of detained migrants, especially children.

The 84-8 vote came amid renewed scrutiny of the Trump administration’s treatment of minors in its custody and amid widespread revulsion over the deaths of a father and daughter from El Salvador who perished trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States.

“There is no longer any question that the situation along our southern border is a full-blown humanitarian and security crisis,” Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said, adding that there was “no excuse” for delay in addressing the situation.

“Inaction is simply not an option for those who care about alleviating the suffering of desperate children and families seeking refuge in the United States,” Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

US, Funds, Humanitarian Crisis
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved bipartisan legislation to address the humanitarian crisis. Pixabay

The Republican-led Senate approved the bill after voting down a House version that also boosted funds for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies stretched to the breaking point by border arrivals totaling more than 100,000 a month, the highest numbers recorded in more than a decade.

Although broadly similar, the Senate version is less extensive in regulating the care of detained children. Unlike the House version, it provides $145 million for the Pentagon to assist in border operations.

To reach President Donald Trump’s desk, the Senate bill would need to pass the House. Hpwever, majority-Democrats in the House have signaled they want changes to the bill. As a result, a bicameral committee is expected to be formed to try to hammer out a version that can pass both chambers. Time for swift action is growing short, as Congress will be in recess next week for America’s Independence Day holiday.

Speaking with reporters before departing the White House, Trump hailed legislative movement on border funding.

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“I believe the House is going to be getting together with the Senate. Hopefully, they can get something done,” Trump said.

Earlier in the day, the president once again blamed Democrats for the border crisis, tweeting: “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!”

On the Senate floor, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fired back.

“We can do something about this [crisis] if the president would stop playing the political game of blame, blame, blame,” Schumer said. “Mr. President, you are the president of the United States. You are head of the executive branch. You control what’s happening at the border.”

US, Funds, Humanitarian Crisis
The 84-8 vote came amid renewed scrutiny of the Trump administration’s treatment of minors in its custody. Pixabay

Schumer spoke alongside a blown-up photo, widely distributed by news organizations, of the drowned Salvadoran father and daughter, as reaction poured in across Capitol Hill and beyond.

“I don’t want to see another picture like that on the U.S. border,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said. “I hope that picture alone will catalyze this Congress, this Senate … to do something.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has faced renewed criticism on Capitol Hill after news reports emerged earlier this week of squalid living conditions at a CBP facility in Texas that houses detained migrant children.

A Senate panel on Wednesday pressed administration officials on the subject.

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“What are you doing to actually make sure that children are getting the care and the sanitary conditions and the food that they need?” New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan asked.

The Border Patrol’s chief of law enforcement operations, Brian Hastings, responded that detention facilities are being upgraded with shower facilities and increased medical care. He added that more funds are being devoted to basic supplies, such as diapers and baby formula. (VOA)

Next Story

Google Gives Up on US Carriers, will Roll Out its Own RCS Chat System

Plus, you'll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven't seen the latest messages

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Google, US, RCS
With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Pixabay

Tired of dilly-dallying at the end of US telecom carriers, Google has announced to roll out its own Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android that will replace the traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features.

“To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services),” Google said in a statement on Thursday.

With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages.

“Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages,” informed Google.

Google, US, RCS
To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). Pixabay

Earlier this year, Google enabled the ability for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico to get chat features in Messages.

Users of Google’s app will eventually see a notification to “Do more with Messages,” and then they’ll be able to “enable chat features” which is RCS.

Chat features are already available for some in Google Messages, and are being broadly rolled out in the US.

“If you already have Messages, you’ll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don’t have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the US by the end of year,” said the company.

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Google said it is committed to working with its partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. (IANS)