Underwood Bill to Address Medical Crisis at Border Unanimously Advances Out of Homeland Security Committee

July 17, 2019
Press Release
Legislation would fill major holes in our existing medical screening procedures and provide high-priority medical resources

WASHINGTON— Today, the Committee on Homeland Security unanimously passed legislation introduced by Vice Chair Lauren Underwood (IL-14) to address deficiencies and improve medical screening procedures at the U.S.-Mexico border. Underwood’s legislation works to comprehensively improve the quality of care at the border by creating set standards and timelines for medical screening to include medical history, current medical complaints, current medications, and more. The bill also provides law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff with requested training to improve the quality of care and equips officers with additional resources for addressing medical situations. Additionally, Underwood’s legislation requires the implementation of electronic health record systems for medical officers at DHS, who have identified it as a high-priority barrier to providing care. Underwood’s legislation is awaiting further consideration by the full House of Representatives.

“The conditions I witnessed at the border were deeply troubling, and as a nurse, I felt the medical conditions were especially unacceptable; so when I came back to Congress I got right to work and introduced this legislation to help ensure children and vulnerable families who arrive at the border receive appropriate medical screenings and care,” said Underwood. “When any human being enters into U.S. custody, it is both U.S. policy and our moral duty require that we provide safe and sanitary conditions, especially to children and the most vulnerable populations. It is essential that we keep our country secure in a manner that reflects American values.”

Full video of Underwood remarks can be found here.

As the Vice-Chair of the Committee of Homeland Security Committee, Underwood has continued to work towards solutions to improve the quality of care at the U.S.-Mexico Border. In April, Underwood joined members of the Homeland Security Committee to visit the border to see the conditions at the border first-hand. In April, Underwood questioned former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on trauma incurred by children separated from families at the border.