July 18, 2017
As the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations is marking up the FY18 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill on July 18th, 2017, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) expresses strong opposition to increased funding for the border wall and deportation force.
“This budget proposal is only the latest threat to border communities, immigrant families, and to our Latin American neighbors. It does nothing to address actual needs of border communities or to respond to their concerns of years of abusive treatment by Border Patrol agents, and it is also bad for the environment. It aims to provide a blank check to unaccountable agencies to sow fear among immigrant communities across the United States. These measures will not improve national security or public safety. They should be opposed immediately,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights and Border Issues.
As the bill stands, it is one of the most inflated budgets for border militarization and ramped up migration enforcement, increasing funds for DHS by $1.9 billion in comparison to the already elevated level of funds approved for FY17. It includes $1.6 billion for construction of the President’s border wall, $4.4 billion for 44,000 detention beds (more than 4,000 beds than FY17), $185.6 million to hire an additional 1,000 ICE officers, and $100 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents. The bill also includes $131 million for the E-verify system and $237 million additional border infrastructure and technology. The proposed funds included for more Border Patrol, ICE agents, and the border wall were exactly what the President requested and were included without justifications for their increases or oversight mechanisms to hold these agencies accountable for their actions.
These proposals make no sense at a time of historic lows in border apprehension figures. In FY16 Border Patrol apprehended 408,870 unauthorized migrants along the southern border, or 2 apprehensions a month per agent, one of the lowest numbers in decades. Further, CBP is already one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country with a significant budget that has been unable to address corruption and address complaints of abuses within its agency. Since January 2010, at least 50 people have died as the result of an encounter with U.S. Border Patrol agents, and many more have been injured. More recently, organizations have documented the concerning trend of agents turning back asylum-seekers who fear returning to their homes, a responsibility that does not belong to CBP and that is in violation of U.S. and international law. A border wall already exists for almost 700 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border and extending it as the President proposes in the bill would require taking land from landowners, who have lived in border states for years, and destroying wildlife refuge areas.
LAWG strongly urges all members of Congress to oppose such senseless and detrimental measures that are harmful to border communities and immigrants, send a damaging message to our neighbors to the south, and are not based on any concrete evidence on how to truly improve national security and the public safety of communities.