House Spending Bill for Homeland Security Heavy on Border Wall, Enforcement, and Deportation

On Tuesday, July 11, the House Appropriations Committee released a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  It features increases in spending to both the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agencies of DHS dealing with border enforcement, detention, and deportation.

The bill calls for a CBP budget of $13.8 billion – an increase of $1.6 billion over last year.  Specifically, the $1.6 billion is dedicated to building a physical barrier along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.  It also calls for the hiring of 500 new CBP agents, new technology, and new aircraft and sensors along the border.

The bill also calls for a $7 billion budget for ICE – an increase of almost $620 million over last year.  This will fund the addition of 1,000 new law enforcement agents; programs to combat human trafficking, child exploitation, cybercrime, visa screening, and drug smuggling; and an increase of 4,000 detention beds for immigrants, for a total of 44,000.

Additionally, the budget intends to add 26 communities to the controversial “287(g)” program, which deputizes local police departments to carry out immigration operations.  Many cities and towns across the United States have implemented “sanctuary city” laws that specifically prohibit their officers from engaging in such actions.

Many Republicans are praising the budget as making America safer, with a focus on law enforcement and security.  Congressman John Carter of Texas stated that this “funding bill provides the resources to begin building a wall along our southern border, enhance our existing border security infrastructure, hire more border patrol agents, and fund detention agents.”

Meanwhile, immigrants’ rights groups are strongly denouncing the bill.  Annaluisa Padilla, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated: “Leaders in the House have caved in to President Trump’s demand for billions in funding for an enormous, mean-spirited and unproductive deportation force that comes at the expense of vitally important domestic programs.”  She went on to say that, given “the Administration’s change in enforcement priorities, ICE is ripping families apart and deporting people who are contributing members of our communities.  Handing over billions in taxpayer dollars for huge increases in the nation’s already massive immigration detention system, funding an unnecessary and impractical wall, and adding 1,500 enforcement agents serves no rational purpose and is an abrogation of Congress’s duty to the American people to spend their money wisely.”

Other agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service, were allocated budgets below last year’s levels.

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