It's hard to fathom Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The Democratic congresswoman from South Florida spent the last month bleating about "prison-like conditions" in the overcrowded Homestead Temporary Shelter for Juveniles.
Yet, when she gets a chance to have a positive impact on the facility, what does she do? She votes AGAINST the Senate bill that would grant $4.6 billion in emergency aid to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
The Ecuadorian-born freshman criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policy, claiming its positions are “cruel,” and immigration reform “should be a top issue in this presidential election. ...
“Every 2020 presidential candidate ought to visit the Homestead Detention Center and join us in denouncing Trump’s cruel immigration policies. ..." Mucarsel said.
It was a trio of Florida delegation representatives, Mucarsel-Powell, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Shalala, who on June 4 called for the closure of the Homestead Temporary Shelter and for the transition of the children being held there to smaller facilities managed by non-profits that would more quickly (they are convinced) transition children to family or sponsors. Their call for a shutdown of the Homestead shelter followed the release of court documents that detailed descriptions of psychologically isolating, “prison-like” conditions in the nation's largest such facility.
But it didn't stop Wasserman Schultz and Shalala from voting FOR the emergency aid package. Only Mucarsel-Powell continued to complain how little was being done for the refugees, while refusing to join her peers in granting emergency funding for ICE and the Border Patrol to address the humanitarian crisis.
On June 27, the motion to concur in the Senate Amendment for H.R. 3401, the emergency funding bill, was passed 305-102, with 25 not voting. To their credit, Wasserman Schultz and Shalala, regardless of their politics, voted "yes;" Mucarsel-Powell voted "no."
And then, the very next day after the vote, Mucarsel-Powell gathered with Democratic presidential candidates to complain about "the crisis" at Homestead.
As reported in the Congressional Record, Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla. -- addressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- said this June 25 on the House floor:
“Madam Speaker, my motion is very simple. I propose to add $64 million to the operations and support account for Immigration and Customs Enforcement for basic pay and overtime, bringing the total for pay up to the president's request. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a law enforcement organization with a legislative mandate to uphold the laws of this country. Officers at the border are tasked with transporting families from the intake facilities and moving kids out of DHS custody and into HHS children's care sites.
"Further, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is working to combat human trafficking at our border. Over the past two months, enforcement officers uncovered 735 fraudulent, documented-fake families. These traffickers are exploiting our laws and forcing our children to make this dangerous journey north in hopes that they will be released into our country. ICE plays a vital role in stopping trafficking and punishing those who traffic in innocent children. I suggest if the majority truly cares about these children, vote ‘yes' on this amendment to give ICE the resources and the pay to stop human traffickers. Madam Speaker, I have been to the border and I have seen the hard work that these officers do.
"Officers are working overtime to process the record number of migrants trying to enter through our southern border. However, Madam Speaker, this bill does not fairly compensate ICE officers for their additional hard work going after human traffickers, and I ask members to vote ‘yes’ for the children, for the children, for the children. As a lifetime law enforcement officer, not paying these officers for their work is unacceptable. We would never treat our local law enforcement officers like this back home. These hardworking men and women should not be punished by the partisan politics in Washington.
"Madam Speaker, we are asking those on the ground to do a job, and this Congress has a responsibility to compensate them. I urge my colleagues to support this motion and vote ‘yes’ to pay our Federal law enforcement officers for the work they do each and every day keeping this country safe.” (Congressional Record, “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019, Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 107, House of Representatives, 6/25/19)
On June 25, 2019, the Rutherford motion failed to pass, 205-218, with 9 not voting. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell voted “no.”
I call this blatant hypocrisy.
It says to me Debbie Mucarsel-Powell isn't remotely acting in good faith, she's using "children" to build political capital. She has no intention of doing anything legislatively to get the problem solved.
She bemoans conditions at an overcrowded facility, yet votes against a desperately needed aid package designed to help everyone consigned to work with or abide by the process.
Apparently, the idea is, don't provide emergency aid when you can keep playing on public outrage/emotions over the treatment of children in "a privately run detention facility" (as if the state could run a better one). With the race for the White House in full swing, think how useful it is to stir the pot as an activist rather than make a real difference with your vote right now.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith