The White House is requesting 3.7 billion in emergency appropriations from Congress to deal with the influx of tens of thousands unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors and family units from Central America at the southern border
The amount the Obama administration is officially requesting is greater than the more than $2 billion the White House previously signaled it would seek.
The money will go to the federal agencies dealing with the massive flood of illegal immigrants — specifically the Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection), Health and Human Services, the State Department and other international programs and the Justice Department — and accomplish funding things like more immigration judges at the border, more detention facilities, and transportation of children.
According to the White House the funding will focus on deterrence, enforcement, foreign cooperation and capacity.
“Deterrence, including increased detainment and removal of adults with children and increased immigration court capacity to speed cases; Enforcement, including enhanced interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks, increased surveillance, and expanded collaborative law enforcement task force efforts,” a White House Fact Sheet explains. “Foreign Cooperation, including improved repatriation and reintegration, stepped-up public information campaigns, and efforts to address the root causes of migration, Capacity, including increased detainment, care, and transportation of unaccompanied children.”
Since October more than 52,000 unaccompanied immigrant children and more than 39,000 women with children have been detained illegally crossing the southern border into the U.S. — the vast majority of whom have been from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Michael Steel, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s spokesman, told reporters that the Speaker would still like to see the National Guard deployed to the border.
“The Appropriations Committee and other Members, including the working group on the border crisis led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), will review the White House proposal,” he emailed. “The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas – which this proposal does not address.”
Obama is scheduled to visit Texas this week to fundraise, however he does not plan to visit the border, a move which has been met with criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Monday Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) slammed Obama for planning to request funding and changes to the law without seeing the situation for himself.
“I think the problem speaks for itself when the President — who would prefer to hang out with campaign donors and other political supporters — would decide not to have any interaction with those that are directly affected by his failed policies. in this case the failed immigration policies that lead to a full blown humanitarian crisis,” Cornyn said Monday on the Senate floor, calling on Obama to “step up”
Funding request breakdown via the White House:
The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – $1.1 billion
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Of this total:
- $116 million would pay for transportation costs associated with the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children;
- $109 million would provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations; and
- $879 million would pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.
The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection – $433 million
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $433 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Of this total:
- $364 million would pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangements;
- $29 million for CBP to expand its role in Border Enforcement Security Task Force programs, increasing information-sharing and collaboration among the participating law enforcement agencies combatting transnational crime; and
- $39.4 million to increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.
The Department of Justice – $64 million
This proposal would provide the Department of Justice a total of $64 million. Of the total:
$45.4 million would be to hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 Budget request for 35 additional teams, would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually.
- $2.5 million would be used to expand the legal orientation program that provides assistance to adults and custodians of children in the immigration court system.
- $15 million to provide direct legal representation services to children in immigration proceedings.
- $1.1 million to hire additional immigration litigation attorneys to support Federal agencies involved in detainee admission, regulation, and removal actions.
Department of State and Other International Programs – $300 million
This proposal would provide $300 million to the Department of State. Of the total:
- $295 million would support efforts to repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America, to help the governments in the region better control their borders, and to address the underlying root causes driving migration, i.e. creating the economic, social, governance, and citizen security conditions to address factors that are contributing to significant increases in migration to the United States. Beyond initial assistance, continued funding for repatriation and reintegration activities will be contingent on sustained progress and cooperation by the Central American countries.
- $5 million would support State Department media campaigns in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, targeting potential migrants and their families. The campaigns will emphasize the dangers of the journey, deliver the message that unaccompanied children are not given a permit to stay in the U.S., and highlight a shared community responsibility for the welfare of unaccompanied children. Funds would also support youth programs to develop skills and leadership among potential migrants.
The Department of Health and Human Services – $1.8 billion
This proposal would provide an additional $1.8 billion for HHS to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children, consistent with Federal law, while maintaining services for refugees. With these funds, HHS will have the resources to be able to care for the children currently projected to come into the custody of the Department of Homeland Security while putting in place more stable, cost-effective arrangements for these children going forward. The proposal would also support the ongoing HHS medical response activities for unaccompanied children to address the surge at Border Patrol facilities.
Without supplemental funding, absent undertaking extraordinary measures, agencies will not have sufficient resources to adequately address this situation. HHS will be unable to address the influx of children by securing sufficient shelter capacity with the number of children held at Border Patrol stations continuing to increase, for longer periods of time. Going forward, HHS will be unable to set-up more stable, cost-effective arrangements for these children, Border Patrol agents will have to be re-assigned to child care duties from their border security work, and ICE will lack the resources needed to sufficiently expand detention and removal capacity for adults with children who cross the border illegally. In addition, without additional funds, DOJ will be unable to keep pace with its growing caseload, leading to longer wait times for those cases already on the docket. And absent dedicated resources in Central American countries, we will not make progress on the larger drivers of this humanitarian crisis. For these reasons, supplemental resources are urgently needed to continue forward with the aggressive response that the Administration has deployed to date.