February 13, 2018
Washington, D.C.—LAWG strongly rejects the administration’s proposed increased funds for its deportation force and border militarization to continue carrying out its xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-refugee agenda which is harmful to border and immigrant communities and shuts out those seeking protection at our borders. It also expresses concern about the proposed cuts to diplomacy and humanitarian assistance for Latin America and the heightened focus on utilizing foreign assistance to increase private sector investment, combat illicit drugs, deter migration, and externalize borders. Increasing a focus on these areas as opposed to the protection of human rights, upholding the rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts could have negative consequences on addressing the root causes of migration and on stabilizing the region.
“This ‘America First’ budget proposes to curb migration, but its narrow-minded focus fails to address the roots of forced migration. Its cuts to diplomacy, development assistance, peace accord implementation in Colombia, and humanitarian assistance will further fray our relationship with Latin America and the world,” states Lisa Haugaard, LAWG’s Executive Director.
The President’s FY19 budget proposal includes a total of $47 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Over half of this is for a ramped up deportation force—$16.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and $8.8 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Administration requests $1.6 billion for 65 miles of a border wall in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas sector; $160 million for different kinds of equipment, technology, and surveillance to increase militarization of the border, and $211 million to hire an additional 750 Border Patrol agents with no justification for increased hiring, consideration of standards for training, or accountability measures. In addition, this proposal includes $570 million for 2,000 new ICE agents and $2,755 million, or a third of the total requested ICE funding, for the increased detention of families and individuals with a historically high level of 52,000 beds.
The administration also proposes cuts across the board in assistance to Latin America. One particularly glaring move is its proposal to shutter the Inter-American Foundation, an effective agency that provides small-scale grants to reduce poverty and promote community-based development.
LAWG strongly urges members of Congress to reject the focus and aid levels of the President’s budget, just as they did last year. Increasing exorbitant amounts of our tax dollars for more border militarization and deportation forces to apprehend long-standing members of our communities and to restrict access to protection at our border to those fleeing violence in their home countries is contradictory to our values and will do nothing to make us safer. Truly addressing the root causes of migration and poverty and the challenges to democracy and human rights in the region requires rights-respecting assistance that invests in communities and works with civil society organizations to root out impunity and corruption.