House Democrats on Monday proposed slashing funding for ICE and the Border Patrol, including cutting detention space for people awaiting deportation down to just 10,000 beds during the coronavirus crisis.
Democrats said they wanted to see Homeland Security’s deportation force cut by 25%, and would eliminate detention space for families altogether. That would force U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release all of them into the community, rather than hold them.
In a new bill unveiled Monday, the House Appropriations Committee also zeroed out any funding for President Trump’s border wall, and blocked his request for more Border Patrol agents, instead pouring money to officers at ports of entry.
And the bill calls for doubling the funding for an ombudsman to watch immigration detention facilities, and adding more cash to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The bill is not the “Defund ICE” policy some Democrats have backed, but it does take a major swipe at an agency that the political left has increasingly targeted — often with inaccurate attacks.
“Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, chair of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security funding. “We also include new measures to keep the Administration accountable and transparent — including a prohibition on diverting any new money for President Trump’s racist border wall boondoggle.”
She has slated the bill for action in her subcommittee later this week.
It reverses most of Mr. Trump’s key immigration priorities — he’d asked for more money for ICE and Customs and Border Protection and his border wall, while the bill cuts all of those.
That makes the legislation more of a political statement than a realistic ante in law-making.
Whether it goes far enough for immigrant-rights groups who want to see ICE defunded, however, remains to be seen.
Mr. Trump had asked for $15.8 billion for CBP. The bill allocated $14.6 billion. He’d wanted $10 billion for ICE, while the legislation gives him just $7.4 billion. Last year, the agency got more than $8 billion.