Trump administration requests extra $4.5 billion from Congress for border crisis

The Trump administration on Wednesday asked Congress to allocate an extra $4.5 billion in emergency funding to deal with the crisis along the southern border.

The request includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance, which the administration said would be used to increase shelters and care for unaccompanied minors, in addition to processing arrivals. About $1.1 billion would go toward other border operations like expanding the number of detention beds and providing more investigation resources.

The $1.1 billion includes $377 million for the Pentagon, which is providing logistical and active-duty support at the border.

The remaining $178 million would go toward technological upgrades and paying law enforcement.

None of the funds would go toward President Trump's border wall, according to the White House. Trump declared an emergency in February in order to reprogram about $8 billion in military funds to start construction of the wall.

A White House official said Wednesday that the administration could not use reprogrammed Department of Defense (DOD) funds from the emergency declaration to aid the humanitarian situation at the border.

“The idea that you’d take DOD funds and shift them to [Department of Homeland Security] DHS is outside the scope of [emergency declaration] authority,” a senior administration official said.

The White House funding request came a day after acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told lawmakers that current funding, which was signed into law in March, would run out before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“Given the scale of what we’re facing, we will exhaust our resources before the end of this fiscal year," he said.

Wednesday's request said funds for dealing with unaccompanied children crossing the border into the U.S. will run out by June.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday slammed the administration’s “cruel and ill-conceived” immigration policies, but said she would “carefully review this request in its totality and, where possible, work with the Senate and the White House to make conditions at the border more humane.”

Congress in February approved $415 million for humanitarian relief on the border, part of $14.9 billion designated for Customs and Border Protection in the DHS funding bill.

The White House said the U.S. has apprehended more than 360,000 migrant families crossing the border illegally in the first half of the fiscal year, almost twice the number it saw in the same period last year, and more than the total number in all of 2017.

The number of border apprehensions and denials of people attempting to enter the U.S. through the southern border spiked to 92,607 in March, up from 66,884 the previous month, according to government figures.

Earlier this week Trump sought far-reaching changes in how asylum cases are treated, which the White House said would seek to “safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process.”

Democrats blasted the plan, which would impose fees and require permits from those seeking asylum.