The Defund Hate Coalition urges you VOTE NO on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1158) due to the funding increases and lack of binding accountability mechanisms for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.
In September our coalition, in partnership with over 200 national, state, and local organizations, shared a letter to Congress listing our priorities for DHS appropriations to prevent immigration enforcement agencies from accessing obscene levels of funding to enact cruel and inhumane policies. Over 40 Members in the Democratic caucus have sent letters to caucus leadership detailing these same concerns and requests. Despite our clearly stated parameters, the final bill falls short in nearly every way.
Priority: Terminate DHS’ authority to transfer or reprogram funds for enforcement purposes, including immigration detention and the construction of border barriers. For the past four years, ICE has overspent its Congressionally approved appropriation to rapidly expand its detention system and then compensates by raiding other accounts. Congress has also voted twice this year to rescind President Trump’s national emergency declaration that has allowed the administration to divert billions of dollars for the continued construction of his vanity wall, and were vetoed each time.
Bill: There are no restrictions on DHS’s ability to transfer, reprogram, or re-allocate funds from other accounts or agencies to spend towards continued detention and wall construction.
Priority: Reduce the enforcement budgets for both ICE and CBP, including funding for detention, agents, and border barrier construction. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, massive increases have been the status quo for DHS. ICE’s gross budget has grown from $6.2 billion to over $8 billion, and CBP’s has increased from $13.3 billion to over $17 billion. DHS has achieved this level of growth by intentionally and continuously circumventing Congressional intent to access as much funding as possible to advance the administration’s enforcement-only, anti-immigrant agenda.
Bill: Both ICE and CBP’s budgets are, overall, higher than enacted in FY19. The specific appropriation for detention capacity remained level, but the overall budget for Enforcement and Removal (ERO) significantly increases through this bill. CBP received an additional $1.375 billion for border wall construction. Further, with no restrictions on its transfer authority, DHS still retains the ability to overspend at will.
Priority: Terminate the “Migrant Protections Protocol” (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. There are more than 600 publicly reported cases of rape, kidnapping, and assault against asylum seekers that were forced to return to dangerous environments through this program. It is a key piece of the administration’s efforts to comprehensively block access to asylum. This program is unauthorized and violates international and U.S. law on asylum.
Bill: Although the bill and report include reporting and planning requirements, there are no provisions in the bill prohibiting or defunding the actual implementation of this unlawful program.
Priority: Place strong guardrails on the treatment of people in DHS custody. Abuse and neglect have proven endemic our immigration enforcement system. In just FY19, there were 15 deaths in CBP custody and 8 deaths in ICE custody. Explicit protections matter because no amount of funding provided will ensure that ICE and CBP will treat people humanely.
Bill: Provisions include the establishment of an office of Immigration Detention Ombudsman, a $20 million funding increase for the Office of Inspector General, increased reporting requirements for DHS, and access to immigrant detention facilities by Members of Congress without prior notice. While significant for purposes of transparency and oversight, without mechanisms to hold them accountable to outlined protections we expect these agencies to continue their abusive patterns.
Based on the bill’s failure to provide basic protections for immigrant communities under attack, we urge Members of Congress to again vote NO on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1158). We hope to then work together to secure future appropriations that don’t terrorize our communities, but reflect their true needs.