House Democrats have issued a budget proposal that includes a shocking slash to border enforcement, with a billion dollars slashed from Customs and Border Protection (CBP_, among other notable cuts.
Bloomberg Law reported Tuesday that House Democrats are pursuing even deeper cuts to the immigration enforcement budget than the Biden White House, which already proposed a significant reduction in CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding levels.
The cuts appear in the House’s draft fiscal 2022 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, released this week.
Bloomberg Law reports that the Democrats want stiff cuts, largely to those departments charged with enforcing border regulations and handling illegal immigration, despite the record number of illegal immigrants encountered by Customs and Border Protection in April and May — jumps over already record levels.
If the draft legislation is passed, the “CBP would get $14.1 billion in net discretionary appropriations, almost a billion dollars less than the current fiscal year and a half-billion dollars less than the White House requested,” per Bloomberg, and the “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would get $1.55 million less than fiscal 2021, while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would get a $346.7 million increase, which would help address processing backlogs.”
The border wall would face the biggest cut. The measure, Bloomberg said, will “rescind more than $2 billion from prior year appropriations for border barrier construction; it proposes no funding for additional Border Patrol agents or the border wall.”
Border governor, Texas Republican Greg Abbott, has proposed filling the hole left by ending construction on a wall across the southern border by building a Texas “border barrier” on the American side of the Texas-Mexico border. Such a project would, theoretically, allow Texas to bypass restrictions against state authorities enforcing federal law; when an illegal immigrant jumped a Texas border-barrier, the state suggests, Texas officials could arrest that immigrant for trespass and other state-level crimes.
There are some increases in the proposed DHS budget.
“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would get an added $397.4 million,” Bloomberg notes, citing threats to key infrastructure following the Colonial Pipeline hack, and the “Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties would get $8.1 million more than fiscal 2021, $3.5 million more than White House requested.”
The GOP is already concerned that CBP is underfunded, particularly in light of an ongoing border crisis. In committee meetings earlier this month, House Republicans “grilled” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they deemed a critical lack of funding for border protection amidst some of the highest rates of illegal immigration in two decades, per Fox News.
“Mayorkas was testifying at the House Homeland Security Committee about the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget request for DHS, which he said would include $665 million in investments toward modernizing land ports of entry and $47 million to invest in detection capabilities in addition to investments in border surveillance technology,” the outlet reported.
Mayorkas was asked by Ranking Member John Katko, R-N.Y., if the request contains more hiring for more Border Patrol agents.
“It does not, we have vacancies now and we are focused on recruiting and hiring additional personnel,” Mayorkas responded.
Katko followed up by pointing to an “alarming” retirement rate among agents.
“We have a 21-year high in Border Patrol agents being pulled from all over the country to deal with the crisis at the border, and it seems to me it’d be a good time for us to contemplate pushing up Border Patrol,” he said.
CBP had more than 180,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the border last month. June numbers are expected out next week.
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