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Frank Sharry on DHS Funding Bill: “We can and must do more to ensure that the days of giving ICE blank checks comes to an end, and to reverse the runaway train of unaccountable detention funding.”

 

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice reacting to the proposed DHS funding deal and implications:

Democrats must do more to rein in the runaway train of DHS funding and the rogue behavior of ICE and CBP.  For too long, ICE and the Border Patrol have operated with impunity – separating families, locking up people who pose no public safety risk, and intentionally sowing fear in immigrant communities in hopes of spurring an exodus – and they are used to operating without any risk of meaningful congressional oversight. Turbocharged by Trump’s presidency, ICE and CBP have ramped up their cruelty and thuggish behavior to new heights. With Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leading the way and providing cover, DHS has lied to Congress and the American people about what they are doing and how much money they are spending to do it.

We are especially alarmed that ICE – an agency that detains and deports parents away from their kids, and detains and deports hard working immigrants with deep ties and strong families – is being rewarded with a 12% increase in detention funding. Furthermore, no meaningful check on ICE’s habit of blowing past spending levels proscribed by Congress made it into the final package.

Let’s be clear: this is not a dry numbers debate about budgets and spending. It’s a real-world referendum about values. Do we want hard working parents, young children and those seeking refuge from violence detained without regard to priority or common sense, or is it time to roll back the dramatic increase of detention and the corresponding toll on families and futures? We know how this vote today is going to turn out, but we implore Democrats to commit to aggressive oversight this year, to preparing good policy for the next round, and to making it a commitment that our nation rein in an agency that acts more like a politicized shock force for Trump’s nativism than a law enforcement agency that reflects our values and serves our interests.

Repeatedly, when confronted with President Trump’s virulent xenophobia, the American people have soundly rejected it. His closing argument in the 2018 elections was a witches brew of racism, lies and demonization – and Trump and his party suffered the largest midterms loss in history. Then Trump shut down a huge part of the federal government for the longest period in history over his stupid wall – and Trump and his party suffered a massive political defeat on that one, too.

Politics is important, but policy matters more. Going forward, appropriators must starve DHS and ICE of the ability to tear apart families and round up and detain tens of thousands of people who are assets to their communities and our economy. We can and must do more to ensure that the days of giving blank checks to ICE comes to an end, and that we reverse the runaway train of unaccountable detention funding.