The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, reacting to the government funding deal that will keep the government open through September.
The compromise on the supplemental spending request is just that – a compromise. As such, the results are a mixed bag. Here’s our take:
The federal government already spends more on immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement efforts combined. Adding an additional $1.5 billion is not only excessive, but will inevitably be used to strengthen the detention and deportation machinery already in place. In reality, not one penny more is needed to fund the radical immigration policies of this Administration. However, given that the Trump Administration insisted on an additional $3 billion, the Democrats did secure a 50% reduction.
Trump’s top priority, a border wall, was not funded. This is a stinging defeat for a President who made this a cornerstone of his candidacy and presidency. Yes, there’s funding for replacing parts of the existing fence, but the deal forbids any new construction of a concrete wall.
The agreement does not allow DHS to hire additional ICE and CPB agents beyond the current Congressionally-authorized levels, but those levels are already too high and the bill enables DHS to prepare for additional hires if funded to expand its deportation force in the 2018 budget.
There is an expansion of detention funding, a practice that should be significantly reduced, not expanded. However, most of the funds are to pay for detention that occurred in the last six months of the Obama Administration (due to a spike in the arrival of Central Americans), and while detention is expected to average 34,000 a night for the rest of the fiscal year, it is good news that the obnoxious bed mandate of 34,000 beds has been nixed.
Poison pill riders related to defunding so-called “sanctuary cities,” limiting DACA, and restricting women’s health services while in detention were defeated.
The bottom line is that Republicans got more money, Democrats limited the amount and limited the damage that money will do. What it means to us is that the stage is set for a much bigger and more consequential battle over the 2018 budget. Republicans seem intent on more fully funding Trump’s mass deportation agenda. It will be up to us as advocates to mobilize and up to Democrats to stop us from sliding into what could turn out to be one of the darkest chapters in American history.
We call on Republicans in Congress to stop enabling the Trump – Sessions – Kelly war on immigrants, and we call on Democrats to use every ounce of leverage to stop its funding. And we call on Democrats to keep fighting for a modernized immigration system that combines targeted enforcement, realistic legal immigration levels and a chance for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and an eventual shot at citizenship. More funding for more enforcement-only is a prescription for disaster. Reform that is anchored in reality and our values is the way forward.