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Defund Hate Coalition Members Call on Congress to Oppose any Transfer of Money to ICE

Politico has reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has notified congressional appropriators of its plans to — yet again — pull massive amounts of money from certain agencies to expand U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) network of immigration detention and enforcement. Immigrant rights advocates call on Congress to release details about the money transfers and oppose any transfer or “reprogramming” of DHS funds that would expand the ICE detention system.

DHS has continued its pattern of massively overspending to expand immigration jails, border militarization, and interior enforcement, and now the bills have come due. Congress funded DHS in fiscal year 2019 with a clear directive for  ICE to reduce the number of people it jailed to 40,500 by year’s end. Yet today, less than two months from the end of the fiscal year, ICE is locking up an unprecedented 55,000 people each day — in clear breach of congressional intent.

Congress has allowed ICE to get away with this fiscal mismanagement because of the discretion it gives DHS under current appropriations law to move money within and between accounts through mechanisms known as transfers and reprogramming. A DHS official bragged to the press in February that the agency intended to use its transfer discretion to continue to expand ICE detention despite congressional instruction to shrink the system. Months earlier, DHS had moved millions away from the Federal Emergency Management Administration during hurricane season in order to make up for ICE’s 2018 overspending on detention.

The Defund Hate Coalition calls on members of Congress, particularly Congressional Appropriators, to:

  • Publicly denounce and formally “non-concur”  with DHS’s transfer and reprogramming  notification.
  • Release the full text of the transfer and reprogramming notification.
  • Pass a fiscal year 2020 spending bill that finally puts an end to DHS’s ability to manipulate the appropriations process to expand the immigration detention and deportation systems. 

Defund Hate Coalition members issued the following statements:

National Immigrant Justice Center Policy Director Heidi Altman:
”This new transfer of funds threatens our democratic system of checks and balances while devastating immigrant communities and lining the pockets of private prison company CEOs. The National Immigrant Justice Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documentation regarding DHS’s new funding transfer requests, but we call on Congress to hold DHS accountable and release this information itself. The public has a critical interest in understanding where DHS is stealing money from to fuel the president’s anti-immigrant agenda. As long as DHS is permitted to continue these patterns, more people will needlessly suffer, including children like those whose parents were taken away in raids last week in Mississippi.”

ACLU Federal Immigration Policy Counsel Madhuri Grewal:
“The public deserves to know whether ICE is raiding funds intended for life-saving purposes, like medical research or disaster preparedness, to further expand Trump’s detention and deportation machine. At a time when children are afraid to go to school for fear of massive raids in their communities and as DHS continues to separate families at the border, Congress must rein in the agency and assert its power as a co-equal branch of government that controls how taxpayer dollars are spent. We call on Congress to limit DHS’s spending and restrict its ability to manipulate the budget process.”

American Friends Service Committee Policy Advocacy Coordinator Tori Bateman:
“This request is yet another example of ICE expanding their enforcement activities at the expense of other government agencies and to the detriment of immigrant communities. The lack of information available to the public about which government programs ICE is planning to take money from is unacceptable. With critical spending like disaster relief potentially at stake, it is essential that Congress stand up to DHS by making the request public, and speaking out against any transfer request that increases funding for ICE's harmful immigration enforcement activities.”

LA RED, Faith in Action, Lead Organizer Sara Melton:
"Every day the Trump administration unveils another tactic to terrify and traumatize immigrant communities. The effects have been chilling — children are afraid to go to school, people detained in abysmal conditions in camps on the border, deaths of children seeking a better life, parents separated from their families for lengthy detention and unjust deportations. While Trump escalates his attacks on immigrant communities, Congress can and must intervene to stop ICE from further terrorizing our communities. Congress should make this DHS transfer request public and oppose any other transfer request that increases funding for detention and deportation.”

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Deputy Washington Director Arielle Gingold:
“It’s no surprise that an agency that is morally bankrupt would falsely claim financial bankruptcy, while secretly padding its coffers to expand its cruel operations. If members of Congress want to truly be the check on this administration’s immigration policies we need — and we hear so often they want to be — then they must hold ICE and Customs and Border Protection accountable.”

United We Dream Deputy Executive Director Greisa Martinez Rosas:
“ICE terrorizes immigrants and members of Congress must stop this transfer in funding. ICE targets, jails, abducts, and deports people en masse, just like they did in Mississippi when they abducted 680 people from their families. Make no mistake: approving this transfer of funds will result in separating more families, and terrorizing more people”


The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. We want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.