The biggest fight on immigration this year will be over funding
The biggest fight on immigration this year will be over funding. While Democratic control of the House has given us a firewall against some of the worst Republican attacks, Trump’s attacks against immigrants continue. He shut down the government for over a month in an effort to get his hateful wall, and has already requested billions more for ICE and CBP in next year’s budget, “FY20.” He hopes to use the money to pay for his wall, more ICE and CBP agents, and more cages for immigrant families.
Fortunately, the Constitution gives Congress—not the White House—the sole power to appropriate money. That means that Democrats can define the terms of this debate through the appropriations process.
What is the Defund Hate Campaign? The Defund Hate Campaign is a coalition of immigrant rights and progressive organizations that have been working for two years to get Congress to reduce funding for ICE and CBP, the two agencies most responsible for tearing apart immigrant families. Co-chaired by two of our closest partners, Detention Watch Network (DWN) and United We Dream (UWD), the coalition seeks to divest from immigration detention and enforcement, and invest in programs that we actually need, like health care and education. Indivisible is a proud member and partner of the Defund Hate Campaign. You can read more here.
What local Indivisible groups can do to Defund Hate
Here are three specific asks you can make:
Cut overall funding for ICE and CBP. Congress has steadily increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since the department was established in 2003. The agencies tasked with immigration enforcement -- ICE and CBP -- have been granted an ever-increasing budget for their mission. Under Trump, detention of individuals and families has exploded from 34,000 people per day under the Obama administration to well over 50,000 people today. Congress has enabled this by increasing funding for ICE by over a billion dollars since the start of the Trump administration, which gives them additional capacity to carry out Trump’s cruel immigration policies
In a negotiated bill: Congress must cut overall funding for ICE and CBP to its FY16 level.
In a continuing resolution: Congress must reject any anomalies that would increase funding above FY19 levels for detention beds, border agents, or the wall.
Block backdoor funding increases. DHS regularly flouts the funding levels set by Congress in order to expand its detention and deportation activities. For example, Congress allowed ICE to transfer $200 million from other accounts under DHS in 2018 in order to expand ICE’s detention capacity. And Trump declared a fake national emergency in order to shake loose billions of additional dollars for his vanity wall on the southern border. Instead of holding the administration accountable for its abuses and mismanagement, Congress has allocated even more money for DHS to carry out Trump’s agenda.
In a negotiated DHS bill: Include language to end ICE and CBP’s transfer and reprogramming authority, which it uses to shift hundreds of millions of dollars from other accounts under DHS in contravention of Congressional appropriations to expand its detention and deportation activities.
In a negotiated Military Construction and/or Defense bill: Do not pay back or "backfill" the funds that Trump previously stole for the border wall, and include language stating that no funds not explicitly appropriated for the border wall may be used for that purpose.
Adopt strong guardrails to prevent abuses. Multiple inspector general reports have highlighted the inhumane conditions inside CBP, ICE and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detention facilities. As part of any appropriations bill, Congress should institute strict standards for these facilities that ensure the safety and well-being of the people inside, such as that included in the original version of the House supplemental funding bill from this summer.