Washington, DC — The House Appropriations Committee this week proposed a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill for fiscal year 2022 that includes approximately $22 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Although this is a slight decrease from last year’s enacted funding levels, and we commend the inclusion of provisions that would ameliorate the punishing nature of immigration enforcement, the Defund Hate campaign is extremely disappointed by proposed funding levels for ICE detention and surveillance and technology at our borders.
The Defund Hate campaign issued the following statement about the proposed budget:
“We are deeply disappointed that members of Congress did not take this opportunity to make significant cuts in funding for immigration detention and enforcement. Particularly appalling is the $132 million for CBP border surveillance and technology and the $2.46 billion for ICE custody operations. This funding will allow ICE to detain an average 28,500 people daily, more than the currently detained population, and much higher than the approximately 15,000 people who were in detention when President Biden took office.
“The proposal shows us that members of Congress are failing to recognize that detention is wholly unnecessary, and that any amount of funding to these agencies has only supported persistent abuse against immigrants in custody and a punitive immigration system that strips people of their dignity and separates them from loved ones. Simply put, the use of immigration detention has never aligned with our values. Everyone should be welcomed and protected no matter where they migrated from or how they arrived in the United States. Congress has the power and the resources to ensure that people navigating their immigration case can do so with their families and with their community —not behind bars in immigration detention. Constituents across the country have made this clear with the passing of legislation in four states that will phase out the use of detention, as the movement to shut down detention centers for good continues to grow.
As Congress moves toward a spending bill for FY2022, the Defund Hate campaign recommends remedying the draft bill’s over-investment in ICE detention and border surveillance and technology by:
- Significantly cutting funding for ICE Custody Operations. Reducing detention levels to reflect an average daily population (ADP) of no more than 15,000 people would put a necessary check on ICE’s power to harm people and separate communities. At the Subcommittee markup of the bill, Chairwoman Roybal-Allard referred to the anticipated phase-out of the Title 42 CDC expulsion policy as justification for increased funds. But this approach continues the same harmful policies of the past.– Congress should be investing funds in community-based respite and support services for arriving asylum seekers, not writing a blank check for their systematic detention.
- Significantly cutting funding for border tech infrastructure. Surveillance and other technologies risk real harm to the environment, infringe on the privacy rights of border and indigenous communities, and lead to more deaths as people crossing the border take more dangerous routes to avoid detection. We must defund all walls, including “smart” ones, and end the ongoing property seizures at the border.
“We believe that transformative structural change in the immigration system is possible. This belief fueled the launch of the Defund Hate campaign four and a half years ago to divest from the harmful structures that attack our communities, and instead invest taxpayer dollars in ways that help all communities thrive together. With this long arc of progress in mind, Defund Hate campaign partners acknowledge our community’s power in advancing several key provisions in the bill that center our collective efforts to fight for the freedom and safety of our communities.”
While we strongly oppose the detention funding levels, our coalition commends some of the other provisions in the DHS spending bill, including:
- Rescission of border wall funding and redirection of dollars toward mitigation activities (sec. 211);
- Defunding of family detention;
- Prohibition on detention or enforcement against certain survivors of crime and trafficking (sec. 218);
- Requirement of timely individualized custody determinations for all people in immigration detention, including those subject to mandatory custody provisions and stricter timelines for transgender immigrants in custody (sec. 219);
- Prohibition on use of ICE Homeland Security Investigations resources or personnel for civil immigration enforcement (sec. 220);
- New guardrails on use of transfer and reprogramming authority (sec. 503); and
- Increased funding for a FEMA-operated case management pilot program and grant program for non-profit organizations to provide shelter and respite to those released from DHS custody.
We hope that these provisions are maintained and strengthened in the final version of the bill, and we call on our members of Congress to do everything in their power to defund ICE and CBP.