Sunday, December 15, 2019

House passes Democrat-backed measure to revamp medical screenings for migrants at the border

The House passed a measure yesterday that would revamp medical screenings for migrants in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The Democrat-backed bill, which passed in a 230-184 vote, would establish timelines for medical screenings and improve overall health standards. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Fred Upton (Mich.) were the only Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation.

The U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening and Standards Act — introduced by freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) — includes language that would require DHS to establish an electronic health record system for those apprehended at the border within 30 days of implementation and submit a report to Congress on recommendations for improving screenings. “When I was at the border I saw busy, overworked Border Patrol officials having to keep health records on paper. I also saw how these records don’t follow migrants between facilities and transfers of custody,” Underwood said on the House floor ahead of the vote.

Critics of the legislation say the focus should be on preventing border crossings and moving detainees out of Border Patrol custody and into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

“I oppose this bill because it is poorly conceived, erroneously drafted and extremely risky. This bill would require the Border Patrol to divert resources from its core missions and create a new medical screening for those who illegally cross and enter the country between ports of entry,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said during floor debate. “I believe every part of that is wrongheaded. However, even if you agree with the policy, this is not the way to do it. Handing DHS And CBP a 30-day mandate to put an electronic records system in place has no basis in reality.”

The legislation faces long odds of advancing in the Republican-controlled Senate.

THE HILL