Leahy questions DHS official over border crisis, Central American aid

WASHINGTON (WCAX) Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy questioned administration officials on the increasing number of detentions at the U.S. - Mexico border as it relates to U.S. aid to Central America.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

In January more than 58,000 migrants were apprehended by the border patrol. Last month it was more than 144,000. That number typically goes up in the summer months, but Tuesday Kevin McAleenan, the Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said the number of migrants coming in is "divorced form the seasonal averages and processes we've seen in the past."

Congress is looking for a legislative solution to the crisis. At the hearing Leahy asked why the Trump Administration put the brakes on about $500-million of aid headed to Central America to address poverty and gang violence -- some of the root causes of mass migration.

Kevin McAleenan: They're frozen but they're under review to make sure there's a return on investment, that they're targeted in a way that will actually address the push factors and that we can partner with the Central American governments to be effective.
Sen. Patrick Leahy: Basically they're frozen, even though we had a bipartisan majority pass the money. You're saying no. Interesting.
Kevin McAleenan: We wanted to make sure they work.
Sen. Patrick Leahy: We'll never know, will we?

Leahy also asked McAleenan about U.S. veterans being deported by ICE. He said he isn't aware of any deportations that weren't approved by senior officials.