© 2023 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Texas Matters: Border Emergency Funding, Concentration Camps and Desperation

David Martin Davies | Texas Public Radio

On Thursday night Congress passed a $4.6 billion emergency border aid bill, but it wasn’t the spending bill that many Democrats in the House said they wanted – including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Public outcry for congressional action took hold after news reports told of horrific conditions in Border Patrol facilities where children were being indefinitely held in overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary confinement.

The Democratic controlled Congress passed a bill on Tuesday that included restrictions for the Trump Administration's spending. However the Republican controlled Senate passed their own version of the bill without those conditions.

With a vote of 305-102, the House on Thursday ended up passing the Senate’s version despite objections from some Democrats.

Among the Democrats, 129 members voted in favor of the bill but 95 opposed it.

San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro is a Democrat and the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Castro didn’t vote on the bill because he was in Florida participating in the debate of Democratic presidential primary candidates, but he said he opposed the bill and would have voted against it.

Border Concentration Camps?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, voted against the Senate’s version of the Emergency Border Spending Bill Thursday night.  She was critical of funding the agencies that are enforcing President Trump’s immigration policies – including a pending mass deportation crackdown that could be enforced in a matter of days.

Ocasio-Cortez recently drew the ire of Republicans when she called the migrant dentition centers “Concentration Camps.”

She says the words accurately describe the conditions of holding facilities on the U.S. Mexico Border – including in Texas.

Andrea Pitzer writes about the history of concentration camps in her book “One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps.”


This week, we’ve continued to see the disturbing images coming from the detention centers on the southern border. The families keep making the journey from their home countries to the U.S.-Mexico border, risking family separation — and more.  They are driven by a desperation to flee violence and poverty. But for some, the story brings a bleaker fate. This week, the photographs of a father and his little daughter who drowned trying to make the journey created a tipping point for those who believe the system, imposed by the government, to process asylum seekers while trying to deter them has finally broken down.  A total failure. Texas Public Radio contributor Yvette Benavides shares her thoughts on that in this commentary.

Yvette Benavides is a professor of creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi