The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) strongly opposes the funding bill released by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday which would dramatically increase spending on immigration enforcement while stripping funds for critical oversight programs. In addition, the bill bypassed regular committee procedures and was therefore released without any minority input or public comment. Among other things, the bill would:
- Allocate $100 million for the hiring of 500 new Border Patrol agents. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is already unable to fill open positions with qualified individuals, and two-thirds of applicants fail the polygraph test, a necessary component of the hiring process used to screen out those who have criminal backgrounds or may engage in corruption or abuse.
- Provide $1.6 billion for a costly and ineffective border wall which border state representatives of both parties have opposed as damaging to their communities.
- Drastically reduce funding, by 27 percent, for the Office of Inspector General, the main oversight component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“Rather than wasting tax payer money on a massive deportation machine by adding unneeded boots on the ground and funding a wasteful border wall, Congress should direct funding to ramp up emergency management efforts and prioritize improvements to ensure our ports and airports are safe and functional,” said Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President. She continued, “In addition, we need more meaningful oversight to ensure DHS respects individual rights and due process, and that immigration enforcement officers operate within the bounds of the law. With Border Patrol operating far into the interior, and plans to expand its authority, the addition of 500 more agents will increase the use of harsh and indiscriminate enforcement tactics against people who have lived here for years with strong family and community ties.”
Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director noted, “At a time when border apprehensions are at an historic low and the existing budgets for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP are at an all-time high, this dramatic spike in funding fails to take into consideration what is actually needed to improve national security and cannot be justified. This bill instead reflects Congress’s attempt to meet campaign promises rather than rebuild America’s global reputation as a nation welcoming to immigrants. With 90 percent of Americans in support of permanent legal status for the undocumented, Congress should focus on constructive solutions, not a mass deportation plan.”