Mark Morgan, Acting Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has accused Democrats of shifting the blame for the border crisis to President Donald Trump, calling them “just outrageous”.
“The experts, the people who do this every single day, that risk their lives – we’ve been out there pleading with Congress that they need to step up. The only dysfunctional thing is Congress,” Morgan said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Wednesday.
The remarks come after the House passed a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill, causing a showdown between the Democrats who lead the House and the Republican-led Senate.
The bill deals with humanitarian issues at the US-Mexico border and specifically stipulates more funding for food, water, medical services and additional protection for unaccompanied children.
The document includes specifics which keep the Trump administration from approving any funding to shore up ICE personnel at the border.
On Monday, the White House said in a statement that President Trump had pledged to veto the bill if it is passed, also blaming Democrats for “inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe”.
Earlier this month, Trump, who has repeatedly rebuked Democrats for not contributing to the security of the US southern border, took to Twitter to claim that “Mexico right now is doing more for the United States at the border than the Democrats in Congress.”
The statement followed the US and Mexico clinching a bilateral declaration on measures to reduce the flow of illegal migrants through the border.
The document envisages Mexico sending its National Guard to the southern border to stop human smuggling, with the US returning asylum seekers trying to cross the border to Mexico, where they will remain as their cases are decided on.
In 2015, Trump campaigned on a pledge to build an “impenetrable and beautiful” wall along the entire 3,150-kilometre-long Mexico border in addition to the existing structures to stop illegal migrants from crossing into the US.
However, after Democrats gained a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term election, Trump found himself incapable of securing the $5.7 billion he said he required for the barrier to be built.
Differences with Democratic lawmakers have resulted in a month-long partial shutdown of government agencies.
Trump ended the shutdown in late January, declaring a national emergency at the southern border three weeks later in a move that enabled him to divert military funds toward the wall project. The US President is seeking to build some 643 kilometres (400 miles) of border wall by next year.