Letter from the President -- Regarding Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Request to Address the Increase in Child and Adult Migration from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley Areas of the Southwest Border; and Wildfire Suppression
Dear Mr. Speaker:
On June 30, I provided an update on my Administration's efforts in addressing the urgent humanitarian situation on both sides of the Southwest border with an aggressive, unified, and coordinated Federal response. Today, I ask the Congress to consider the enclosed emergency supplemental appropriations request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 that includes $3.7 billion to comprehensively address this urgent humanitarian situation.
This funding would support a sustained border security surge through enhanced domestic enforcement, including air surveillance; expenses related to the repatriation and reintegration of migrants; associated transportation costs; additional immigration judge teams, immigration prosecutors, and immigration litigation attorneys to ensure cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible; funding to address the root causes of migration; public diplomacy and international information programs; the operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children; and expenses associated with the appropriate care for those apprehended, consistent with Federal law, and the necessary medical response.
I am also requesting $615 million for emergency wildfire suppression activities for FY 2014, and a new discretionary cap adjustment for wildfire suppression operations starting in FY 2015. This funding would provide for the necessary expenses for wildfire suppression and rehabilitation activities this fiscal year so we can fight fires without having to resort to damaging transfers from our wildfire treatment and protection activities. Too often in recent years, this cycle of transfers has undermined our efforts to prepare for and reduce the severity of wildfires, which is both fiscally imprudent and self-defeating.
My request includes language to support a discretionary cap adjustment to allow the Federal Government to respond to severe, complex, and threatening fires or a severe fire season in the same way as we fund other natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. This approach would provide funding certainty in future years for firefighting costs, free up resources to invest in areas that will promote long-term forest health and reduce fire risk, and maintain fiscal responsibility by addressing wildfire disaster needs through agreed-upon funding mechanisms.
My Administration requests that the funding described above be designated as emergency requirements pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended, (BBEDCA). In addition, my Administration requests that a new cap adjustment for wildfire suppression operations be added to section 251(b)(2) of BBEDCA.
I urge the Congress to act expeditiously in considering this important request, the details of which are set forth in the enclosed letter from the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Finally, separate from this request, my Administration will continue to work with the Congress -- following up on my letter to congressional leadership on June 30, 2014 -- to ensure that we have the legal authorities to maximize the impact of our efforts, including providing the Secretary of Homeland Security additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and increasing penalties for those who smuggle vulnerable migrants, like children.