Statement from Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center
CHICAGO (March 28, 2022) -- The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) welcomes the Biden administration’s request to make a substantial investment in expanding access to counsel for immigrants and reduce the number of detention center beds funded to detain immigrants in fiscal year 2023. But the administration, and ultimately Congress, must do more to divest from immigration detention and surveillance systems that harm U.S. communities, separate families, and undermine access to due process protections for asylum seekers — particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous migrants — who are forced to leave their homes.
The president’s proposed budget would reduce funding for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention system by more than $450 million. The president also requested $150 million in funding for a Department of Justice program to provide legal representation for adult immigrants in the immigration court system. These requests are a marked shift from the fiscal year 2022 funding bill the president signed into law just weeks ago.
Unfortunately, these positive shifts in spending priorities are severely blunted by the president’s requests to spend more than $527 million on home confinement, electronic monitoring, and other programs that surveil immigrant communities and hinder individuals’ ability to live and work freely while their cases are pending in the immigration system. The president also requests an alarming $15 billion increase in spending for Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with expelling asylum seekers under the administration’s inhumane Title 42 policy. Now more than ever, our country needs to uphold its longstanding tradition of welcoming those fleeing harm. We call on Congress and the administration to invest in a welcoming and humane approach to migration.