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Immigrant Advocates Blast Proposed FY2018 DHS Appropriations Bill

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The Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider a massive increases in immigration enforcement spending in the proposed fiscal year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill later today.  This bill tracks with President Trump’s request for a massive border wall, more private detention beds and an increase in the DHS deportation force in his fiscal year 2018 budget request.

The bill as drafted includes:

  • $1.6 billion for construction of President Trump’s border wall;
  • $4.4 billion for 44,000 detention beds, an increase in 4,676 beds over fiscal year 2017, and 129 Fugitive Operations teams.
  • $185.6 million to hire 1,000 additional ICE officers and 606 support staff;
  • $100 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents; and
  • $131 million for E-Verify.

This represents an increase of a whopping $1.9 billion over the already elevated fiscal year 2017 funding bill, and would enable immigration enforcement to reach $23.5 billion next year –  an amount that is higher than all the other federal law enforcement functions combined. This, at a time of record low border apprehensions. According to the Migration Policy Institute, apprehensions peaked in the year 2000 at 1.6 million, then began a steady decline due to the recession of 2008-9, improvements in the Mexican economy and the effects of increased enforcement under Presidents Bush and Obama. In FY2016 apprehensions totalled 408,870. In FY2017, border apprehensions are down an additional 19% compared to FY2016.

With border apprehensions at a historic low, why are Republicans in Congress proposing such a huge increase in an already bloated enforcement apparatus? Because the Trump Administration is committed to arresting, detaining and deporting millions of immigrants with deep ties to America. A recent ProPublica article revealed a previously unreported February 2017 memo from ICE that fully articulates the Trump Administration’s strategy to go after any and all undocumented immigrants. The memo contradicts Sec. Kelly’s repeated assertions that DHS is focusing enforcement against criminals and public safety threats. Parents and relatives of unaccompanied children are emerging as a special target of ICE officersreports the New York Times. Immigrant rights groups are pushing back, noting the administration is using children as bait to punish the parents, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Below are some early reactions from leading advocates for common sense immigration policies:

Greg Chen, Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

The House funding bill is a Christmas gift for President Trump that includes all the unjustified detention beds and enforcement agents he wants for his mass deportation machine to deport more families and people who have lived here for years.  The vast majority of Americans want these people to have the opportunity to apply for legal status, not detention and deportation.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigrant Law Center:

President Trump is out of control, and his immigration enforcement budget is yet another example of how radical his administration is if left unchecked. It uses billions of our tax dollars to rip families apart, and to fund his deportation machine, while Trump slashes funding for priorities such as education, environmental protection, and health care.

Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of Policy of National Immigration Justice Center:

This bill weaponizes our government’s budget process. It will tear families apart and put the lives of immigrants in danger in a punitive detention apparatus that undermines basic American values and violates due process. We call on our elected officials to defund this administration’s mass deportation agenda, not fuel it.

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC):

The latest House Homeland Security appropriations bill is a woeful and inhumane misallocation of priorities. Each day the Administration seems to get further out of touch, seeking to divest from anti-poverty, education, and health programs that benefit people from the inner cities to the rust belt of America to fund its deportation and criminalization agenda to rip families apart and increase the mass detention of immigrants.

Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director of United We Dream and a DACA beneficiary:

This insane budget proposal is an anti-immigrant mass deportation wish list put together by Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions and all Americans are being asked to foot the bill. Trump says that immigrant youth are supposed to “rest easy” and Paul Ryan tells us we have nothing to worry about. Get real. Ending DACA and adding billions to the deportation agencies are two essential components of the extremist fantasy of forcing all immigrant families into fear and out of the country.

Edison Hernandez, member of Make the Road New Jersey, on behalf of tens of thousands of Make the Road members in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut:

Today the Appropriations committee will mark up Trump’s push for an additional $4.5 billion for the 2018 Federal Budget to fuel his deportation force, which will only further criminalize immigrants and tear our families apart. Trump’s continued attempts to destroy families and communities by funding the detainment and deportation of immigrants of all backgrounds, no matter their situation, is despicable. We will not stand for this outright attack on our communities, and we will be keeping tabs on those who turn their backs on us.