On June 16, 2015, now President Trump launched his campaign with insulting remarks against immigrants. During the campaign, he turned those insults into policy. In Phoenix, Arizona, then candidate Trump laid out an immigration policy that targeted any undocumented person for deportation and proposed to ban not only Muslims and refugees, but anyone who was not considered the “the right people”. Despite doubts that his campaign speeches were all talk, since taking office, President Trump has begun to implement his hateful immigration policies.
On January 25th, President Trump issued two Executive Orders. The first created a mass deportation force by making any undocumented immigrant, regardless of age or circumstances a target for removal and by doubling the number of ICE agents. The second calls for the construction of a border wall and massively expands the use of detention in immigration proceedings. The third order, which has since been revised, fulfills President Trump’s promise to ban Muslims by barring people from six majority Muslim countries and halting the refugee resettlement program. These three orders present a clear threat to all immigrant communities.
Already in the first two months of his presidency, the poisoned fruits of his orders have come to light. The orders have left families stranded oceans apart, while locking refugees in a burning building in their home countries torn by war. His cruel and rogue deportation force has arrested a domestic violence victims seeking protection in court, detained young dreamers promised they would be a low priority and separated mothers and fathers from their children.
This is Donald Trump’s vision and plan for America. Nevertheless, the courts soundly rejected his Muslim and refugee ban- twice. Now, the fight turns to Congress. In order for Donald Trump to fully implement his executive orders, he needs Congressional approval and Congressional funds. The conservative American Action Forum estimates it could cost the federal government between $100-$300 billion to apprehend, detain, process, and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants. President Trump doesn’t have that money- yet.
Standing between fully implementing these orders and their terror and chaos is the U.S. Senate. Many of the actions indicated in the executive orders require extra funding and haven’t been fully implemented. On March 16, President Trump requested three billion dollars from Congress for the Department of Homeland Security to begin paying for his executive orders this fiscal year.
This three billion in taxpayer dollars gives a check to private prisons to build more beds to detain immigrant families, hire even more ICE and CBP agents to target our churches and courts, and begins construction on an expensive and unnecessary wall. This budget request for fiscal year 2017 is only the start to the funding Trump needs for his Executive Orders. DHS internal estimates put a $21.6 billion price tag on the wall.
Without this initial funding, there is no additional money for new agents, materials for the border wall, and expanded detention facilities.
In order for this budget request to pass the Senate, President Trump needs 60 votes, 52 votes from Republicans and 8 votes from Democrats. This is the first time Congress will be considering and voting on Trump’s cruel and wasteful immigration agenda. It is a crucial opportunity to resist President Trump’s executive orders. Congress will either stand up to his hate or be complicit in his terror.
Senator Schumer has already indicated Senate Democrats are ready to fight against the mass deportation force and the border wall. If the U.S. Senate cuts President Trump off from the purse strings of the federal government, they can begin to prevent a fully-fledged deportation force and present a clear check on his power. But only the American people can hold them firm to vote no. A vote is expected in early April.