The Trump Administration, and an “unshackled” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), are detaining and deporting immigrants who have lived here for decades, including DREAMers, immigrants with U.S. citizen children, and others with deep ties to America. Now, the Trump White House’s supplemental DHS spending request is demanding billions of dollars in taxpayer money to go even further, seeking taxpayer money to fund an expanded mass deportation force, new detention centers, and a border wall with Mexico – the building blocks of his mass deportation strategy. Following this vision would come with massive costs and trade-offs for Texas and the country. As APhighlights, the Trump Administration’s supplemental spending request seeks, “immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community grants so U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, can cover the down payment on the border wall.”
Republicans should join Democrats in opposing attaching the Trump border wall and immigration supplemental request to a must-pass spending bill at the end of April. Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn and Members of the Texas congressional delegation, including Representatives Hurd; Sessions; Culberson, should reject the Trump immigration supplemental DHS spending request. Below, we provide an overview of Trump’s cruel, costly and unnecessary immigration budget and offer reminders why American taxpayers don’t want to, and shouldn’t have to, pay for Trump’s wall and mass deportation vision. Instead, the public overwhelmingly wants to legalize undocumented immigrants instead of trying to deport them.
Trump’s Immigration Supplemental DHS Spending Request is Cruel, Costly and Unnecessary
The supplemental DHS spending request includes an additional $3 billion to spend on Donald Trump’s deportation agenda for FY2017 – an amount that would be added to the $20 billion taxpayers are already spending per year on immigration enforcement. This $3 billion request is just a fraction of the taxpayer money that would be needed to fund all of the components of Trump’s executive orders. The DHS internal estimate to build the southern border wall alone is $21.6 billion, but even Trump appears to realize that the wall cannot be built in a year. Additionally, Trump is already seeking an additional $4.5 billion dollars to be spent on his deportation force in FY2018 (see a detailed breakdown of the Trump immigration supplemental DHS spending request here)
This supplemental DHS spending request is wasteful, cruel, and unnecessary. As Center for American Progress recently noted, “Instead of increasing funds to needlessly ramp up immigration enforcement and tear families apart, the administration should instead use this $3 billion to create tens of thousands of new jobs, help ease the burdens of childcare on thousands of Americans, hire new teachers, and build new schools.” See this CAP analysis for a detailed breakdown on what we could be funding instead with the $3 billion request. And as AP highlights, the Trump Administration’s supplemental spending request would seek, “immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community grants so U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, can cover the down payment on the border wall.”
To Complete the Border Wall, Trump Would Have to Increase Government’s Eminent Domain Power
To complete the border wall, President Trump is seeking to increase the use of eminent domain to take private landowner’s property – an unpopular notion in states such as Arizona and Texas. As the Washington Post recently noted, “To build the wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border — and fulfill a key campaign promise — Trump will need to wield the power of government to forcibly take private properties, including those belonging to his supporters. Much of the border, especially in Texas, snakes through farms, ranches, orchards, golf courses, and other private property dating back to centuries-old Spanish land grants. As a signpost to the troubles ahead, the government has still not finished the process from the last such undertaking a decade ago … ‘It will be a huge challenge for his administration. It will clog up the courts,’ said Terence Garrett, a security studies and public affairs professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville. ‘It’s just an affront to property rights.’”
Further, President Trump’s funding request for fiscal year 2017 includes an additional 20 attorneys to pursue Federal efforts to obtain the land and holdings necessary to secure the Southwest board and another 20 attorneys and support staff for immigration litigation assistance.
Trump Wants American Taxpayers to Spend Billions Funding a Mass Deportation Strategy They Fundamentally Oppose
The DHS request seeks billions of dollars to fund immigration enforcement and a border wall. While this extreme approach panders to the small minority of nativists who make up his base, poll after poll shows that Trump’s radicalism on immigration is directly at odds with the views of the vast majority of Americans:
- New CNN polling finds that 90% of Americans, including 87% of Republicans, back an earned path to citizenship; that by a 71%-27% margin, Americans oppose the notion that the government seek to “deport all people currently living in the U.S. illegally; and that by a 58%-40% margin, Americans are more worried that deportations will go too far rather than not far enough.
- Overwhelming and durable public support for legalizing, not deporting, undocumented immigrants. Recent polls from Quinnipiac, Pew Research, New York Times/CBS, Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, Gallup, and even Fox News each found that between 72% and 88% of Americans back either citizenship or legalization for undocumented immigrants over deportation.
- Americans are strongly opposed to building a border wall with Mexico, don’t think the wall should be a priority of the Trump Administration, and don’t believe President Trump’s boasts that he will make Mexico pay for the wall. By a 60-38% margin in February CNN poll, Americans oppose building a wall along the entire Mexican border; a February Pew Research poll found that Americans oppose the border wall by a 62%-35% margin and 70% think the U.S. would have to pay for the wall, while just 16% of Americans think Mexico would pay for it; a January CBS News poll found that Americans oppose the border wall by a 59-37% margin and 79% think that American taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the wall; and a Fox News poll recently found that just 3% of registered voters think that Trump’s top priority should be building a wall.
Costs and Consequences of Trump Immigration Approach Already on Display
Trump’s mass deportation vision is spreading fear and chaos well beyond the “bad dudes” they say they are focused on (see this overview for some specific examples). From schools now dealing with deportation fears to worries about the bottom line of the travel, agriculture, andconstruction industries, we are now confronting the consequences – and costs – of Trump’s unpopular and un-American policies. As the New York Times recently stated, “If you do back-of-the-envelope calculations, you’re gonna need a big envelope. The [center-right] American Action Forum last year estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants, and keeping them out, would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion.”
In the face of this costly mass deportation vision, Americans are standing up for their immigrant neighbors. As South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg reminds us in a new Huffington Postopinion piece, “it’s not just Americans in New York or Los Angeles who believe that we need a more humane and rational [immigration] system … Plenty of people in red states believe we must reject the politics of scapegoating and its devastating impact on millions—including American citizens.” Here are three recent examples of communities rallying in support of their immigrant neighbors in Granger, IN; Columbus, OH; and West Frankfort, IL.
Patterns of Lies and Retaliation Show that ICE and CBP Needs More Accountability, Not Additional Money for a Deportation Force
ICE is regarded by many law enforcement professionals as a rogue and unaccountable police agency. New revelations show a disturbing pattern at ICE of political retaliation, willful falsehoods, and the selective and inaccurate release of data designed to publicly scapegoat and shame immigrants and the communities that welcome them:
- U.S. Federal Judge: ICE Conducted Immigration Raids in Austin, TX to Retaliate Against Local Sheriff’s Policies – then ICE Lied About It (see here)
- ICE Retaliated and Lied in Targeting Dreamers (read about their treatment of Daniel Ramirez Medina and Daniela Vargas).
- ICE Released Misleading and Selective Information Designed to Scapegoat Immigrants and Immigrant-Friendly Communities. The Trump Administration and ICE this week releasedthe first installment of their weekly report on immigrant crimes, seeking to spread fear and to intimidate immigrant-friendly communities. But local law enforcement voices and independent experts are crying foul, highlighting that the ICE report is filled with inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading information (see more here).
Meanwhile, there have been a series of recent and disturbing allegations also levied against CBP – an agency that Politico has called “America’s most out-of-control enforcement agency.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “If DHS Secretary General John Kelly cannot control his immigration agents that rely on political retaliation and outright lies, why is Congress considering funding increases to hire more of them? Rather than writing a blank check to expand ICE and CBP, Congress needs to exercise oversight and demand changes.”