The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) condemns Congress’ newly released immigration-related spending plan for the current fiscal year, which continues the Trump-era approach to immigration enforcement and detention by keeping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) funding levels roughly equivalent to what they were before President Biden took office.
“Congress’ failure to decrease bloated Trump-era spending on agencies with a well-documented record of harming immigrant communities – or to provide any meaningful support such as legal representation to immigrants – will result in more deaths, families separated, and needless pain for immigrant communities and those seeking asylum,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy.
The proposed omnibus budget for fiscal year 2022, which Congress is expected to vote on before March 15, increases funding for ICE’s custody operations and continues funding for ICE to detain 34,000 people daily. The budget gives ICE money to fund over 5,000 more beds than proposed in funding bills introduced last year in both the House and Senate. These funding levels directly contradict commitments made by the Biden administration and members of Congress to reduce the immigration detention system.
In addition to continuing bloated enforcement and detention budgets, the bill fails to invest in critically needed support services for immigrant communities. Despite the Biden administration’s stated commitment to access to justice in all United States courts, Congress declined to provide even one dollar for a Department of Justice pilot program to provide legal representation for people facing detention and deportation in immigration proceedings.
Shockingly, the bill also fails to rescind Trump-era border wall funding that remains available to the agency, or to provide funding to mitigate the harms inflicted on border communities and environmental harm as a result of border construction. It pours funding into new CBP processing centers, without ensuring humanitarian protections or guardrails.
NIJC joins other advocates in calling on Congress to reverse course immediately.