Underwood’s Bipartisan Legislation to Address Humanitarian Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border Passes the House

September 27, 2019
Press Release
Legislation would fill holes in existing medical standards and establishes a high-priority electronic health record system

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s (IL-14) legislation to address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening and Standards Act (H.R. 3525) addresses existing gaps in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy to ensure that migrant children and families receive basic medical screenings. Underwood’s legislation directs DHS to research innovative approaches to address capability gaps regarding the delivery of comprehensive medical screening of individuals, with a focus on children, pregnant women, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations. Additionally, Underwood’s legislation addresses high-priority barriers to effective screening, as identified by DHS medical officers. The bill builds upon ongoing DHS efforts to improve electronic medical recordkeeping by directing the agency to establish an electronic health record system that can be accessed by all departmental components operating along U.S. borders.

“Anyone who has been to the border, including many of my House colleagues, has seen how overwhelming the humanitarian situation there is. Congress has consistently been willing to provide DHS with the resources it needs – but with those resources come accountability and oversight,” said Underwood. “My bill is an important and sensible step forward to make sure that both migrants and border officials are not placed in situations that are unsafe.”

Underwood’s remarks can be found here and a one-pager on Underwood’s bill can be found here.

FINAL Fact Sheet

In July, Underwood-backed legislation, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act (H.R. 3239), passed the House and established requirements for medical screenings for all individuals apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Underwood’s legislation builds on this legislation with the establishment of an electronic health record system to track those screenings and other medical care.

As the Vice Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security Committee, Underwood has continued to work towards solutions to improve the quality of care at the U.S.-Mexico border, including three visits to examine the conditions first-hand. In June, Underwood first introduced H.R. 3525 following her first visit to the border with Members of the Committee on Homeland Security. In March, Underwood questioned former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on trauma incurred by children separated from families at the border.