Freshman Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was one of four Democrats who voted ‘no’ on an emergency border aid package that passed the House largely along party lines Tuesday night.
Pressley, calling into Boston Public Radio Wednesday, said her vote aligns with her campaign calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“The callousness and the intentional torture, and child abuse, in separating children from their families, we have appropriated funds previously and because of the culture of ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Protection,] these children have not gotten what they needed,” she said. “But it begs the larger question here, which is we should not be criminalizing and vilifying migrant families, and especially children and our most vulnerable. The funds have been appropriated, and I have to hope and pray with some fidelity they will be dedicated.”
The $4.5 billion House bill contains more than $1 billion to shelter and feed migrants detained by the border patrol and almost $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Pressley said her constituents in Massachusetts’ 7th District have expressed fear over ICE’s actions, noting that her district is 53 percent people of color and 40 percent foreign-born.
“This is not abstract, this is not hyperbole, the fear the residents in my district are experiencing every day with coordinated attacks and growing threats to immigrants and refugees,” she said.
President Donald Trump has called for, but recently delayed plans to ramp up deportations of up to 2,000 families who have missed a court date or have been served deportation orders.
The White House has threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would hamstring the administration’s border security efforts.
Many children detained entering the U.S. from Mexico have been held under harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency’s care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.
Pressley said she hopes the money will be appropriated to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, but she could not vote to approve more money to ICE, an organization she called a “rogue, racist agency” that she does not want to “embolden.”