Understanding the Finances Behind ICE and CBP

Understanding the Finances Behind ICE and CBP

$25 billion of our tax money is spent each year on ICE and CBP.

Here’s how it breaks down:

ICE’s Fiscal Year (FY)
2020 budget:

$8.4 billion

CBP’s FY 2020 budget:

$17.4 billion

ICE and CBP budget growth in the last 5 years

This money translates into the detention of immigrants, the militarization of our border, and the racial profiling and targeting of immigrant communities.

Immigration detention
Border militarization
Abusive ICE and CBP agents

Demand Biden end Title 42

Demand Biden end Title 42

Hundreds of people have died in ICE and CBP custody. These faces represent a few of the lives lost.

The immigration enforcement system is plagued by inhumane conditions, a lack of accountability and a culture of violence. The alarming death toll of people in ICE and CBP custody proves this fact. The agencies’ records of abuse are well-documented by immigrant rights advocates and the Department of Homeland Security’s own Office of Inspector General.

ICE and CBP are founded on racist, dehumanizing laws that allow our government to criminalize immigration, incarcerate and deport millions of people, and further marginalize and profile people of color. These are fundamental human rights violations.

“Overfunding of these agencies has led to increased jailing, deportation and death of our people. Defunding hate can't wait, we must divest from enforcement and invest in our communities' needs.”

Cynthia Garcia
DACA recipient and National Campaigns Manager For Community Protection at United We Dream

3 Ways We Defund Hate

3 Ways We Defund Hate

Congress has the power of the purse. It’s written into our Constitution. That makes Congress the ultimate decision‑maker about how to spend our tax dollars—both in terms of how much money to spend and how to divide it up. Here’s how that works and what the Defund Hate Campaign does about it.

Challenge the Budget Process

Every fiscal year, Congress divides the total budget between 12 appropriations subcommittees that represent different areas of government spending, directed to specific government departments. These include Homeland Security, Defense, Financial Services, Health and Labor, Education, etc.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget pays for ICE and CBP. So, we work to cut overall funding to DHS. We call on Congress to view the federal budget as a moral document and invest in programs like health care, education, and green infrastructure and not border militarization, immigration detention and deportation.

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Disrupt the Appropriations Process

There are appropriations committees in both the House and Senate. Each committee has a Department of Homeland Security subcommittee. The DHS subcommittees must decide how to divide the money they’ve been given between specific programs like ICE agents, immigration detention, CBP agents — including Border Patrol — and border militarization. These decisions, and those made by the other appropriations subcommittees, are put into a bill that must pass out of both the House and Senate and be signed by the president.

If that doesn’t happen, the government shuts down. Or, sometimes, Congress passes a short-term funding bill, a continuing resolution, to keep funding levels where they are until they can agree on a final bill, to avoid a shutdown. The continuing resolution gives Congress more time to pass a bill that the president will sign. If they can’t come to a deal, they must either pass another continuing resolution or shut down the government.

The Defund Hate Campaign aims to decrease funding for detention, ICE and CBP agents and enforcement operations, and border militarization by the DHS. And, throughout the year, we work to ensure ICE and CBP don’t raid other government accounts or get supplemental funding from Congress on top of the budget they already received for the year.


Hold Members of Congress Accountable

Congress is the ultimate decision-maker about how to spend our tax dollars — both in terms of how much money to spend and how to divide it up.

Members of Congress can and should defund ICE and CBP based on their records of abuse and fiscal mismanagement. We educate elected officials and demand they stop blindly approving ICE and CBP’s budgets and, instead, cut their funding.

The Constitution granted Congress control of our tax dollars. ICE and CBP are undermining this power and manipulating the process to write their own blank check, subverting American democracy at its core.

You have the power to change this. Contact your members of Congress. Make your voice heard.

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What’s the budget process timeline?

The government’s Fiscal Year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The below timeline is how the budget process is scheduled to occur each year, but often this timeline changes. No matter what month it is, it’s always a good time for your member of Congress to hear from you!


President uses the State of The Union address to outline priorities for the upcoming year.


President submits budget to Congress, theoretically by the first Monday in February.


Congress begins budget negotiations to figure out how much money the federal government has to spend and how much government agencies should get.


By the end of April, Congress should pass a budget resolution that will decide how much money DHS will get.


During the summer, Congress negotiates appropriations that include specific programs within the DHS budget like ICE detention and Border Patrol agents.

September 30

The government’s Fiscal Year ends. By this date, the House and Senate are supposed to pass a bill that the President signs into law. Sometimes this happens and sometimes the process gets extended and dragged out if members of Congress cannot come to an agreement. If this happens, Congress may pass a short term spending bill (or continuing resolution) to keep funding levels where they currently are or the government will shut down.

Invest in Communities

Invest in Communities

We all do better when everyone has the opportunity to succeed. That’s why members of Congress need to use our tax dollars to support critical education, housing, green infrastructure, and health care programs. We are stronger when we work together as a community. We’re enhanced by our differences and united in our shared vision of a just society.

The missions and actions of ICE and CBP are in direct opposition to these values. Congress must defund these agencies.

Beyond the Enforcement Paradigm: A vision for a transformative budget for U.S. immigration

We believe in a just and compassionate approach to immigration, one that welcomes, respects, and honors the human rights and dignity of all immigrants with programs grounded in our communities. We recognize that in order to make this vision a reality, we must defund the old and abuse-ridden systems that perpetuate the cruelties of enforcement and instead invest in services that respond to real need.

Read the Defund Hate Coalition's “Beyond the Enforcement Paradigm: A vision for a transformative budget for U.S. immigration” that details how to move towards a more just and humane immigration system through a divest-invest approach.

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