Senate DHS Spending Bill Stuck On Enforcement Paradigm
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations advanced legislation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending for fiscal year 2024, which includes significantly increased funding that will be given to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — federal agencies that have systematically proven to be abusive and deadly. It was only after the committee hearing that the bill text and summary were made available for public viewing.
While the Senate’s funding bill is better than its House counterpart, our concerns about the harmful focus on militarized enforcement reveal the same misguided priorities for funding the immigration system. The bill funds ICE and CBP above the levels requested by the administration, with additional “emergency” funds for detention and surveillance. We urge congressional leaders to make meaningful reductions to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, particularly ICE Custody Operations, by decreasing the funded average daily population level for ICE detention to no higher than 15,000 people, where it was at the start of the Biden administration. In addition, we urge members of Congress to cut funding from ICE’s invasive and controlling Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs. We also urge cuts to CBP Border Patrol Operations for agents and invasive border surveillance technologies across CBP accounts while fully rescinding previously appropriated, unspent funds for border wall construction.
If there was a time for congressional leaders to take a bold stand against the country’s status quo immigration enforcement system, it is now. In March, communities nationwide participated in a National Day of Action protesting 20 years of abusive DHS policies. Under the Biden administration, there have been eleven deaths in ICE custody, with the most recent death of Ernesto Rocha-Cuadra occurring last month in an ICE detention center in Louisiana. The United States government has admitted to CBP’s wrongdoing in denying medical care to 8-year-old Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez that would have saved her life in May.
Further, we have been enraged to see the horrendous treatment of migrants at the Texas border under the authority of Gov. Greg Abbott, further evidence of the harm immigration and border enforcement inflicts on vulnerable immigrants. The current trajectory of immigration enforcement at the state and federal levels is inhumane. Congress can turn a new page that will prevent needless loss of life in U.S. immigration custody and implement federal spending that upholds the respect and dignity of immigrant community members.Congress should also reject any attempts to direct further funding for immigration enforcement programs outside of regular order appropriations this year. Whether through a supplemental funding bill for DHS, transferring funds within DHS, defense spending to deploy troops or the national guard at the border, or any attempts to militarize the border further, additional funding is harmful and should be rejected.
The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Instead, we want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.