Customs and Border Protection has a contingency plan in its 2016 budget request to spend up to $134.5 million “to provide the necessary support activities” in the event of a future influx of unaccompanied illegal immigrant youths.
In written testimony for a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the CBP budget request, CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske highlighted last year’s surge in apprehensions of unaccompanied minors and family units illegally entering the U.S.
“The surge peaked in June, with over 10,000 [unaccompanied children] encountered by the Border Patrol. By the end of FY 2014, the Border Patrol had encountered 68,631 UCs and 68,684 family units; a dramatic increase compared to FY 2013 when the Border Patrol encountered a total of 38,833 unaccompanied children and 15,056 family units nationwide,” he explained in testimony.
The 2014 surge, of largely Central American migrants, strained government resources, resulted in a multi-agency response and saw more than 53,500 undocumented youths released to sponsors in the U.S.
According to Kerlikowske’s testimony the $134.5 million will represent a contingency fund to make sure CBP is prepared for a future flow.
“The Budget Request provides baseline funding for the care and custody of 58,000 UCs and takes steps to better prepare the Department for a future influx of UCs through a contingency fund which will provide up to $134.5 million to provide the necessary support activities required to apprehend and maintain the health and safety for up to 104,000 UCs once specific threshold levels are met,” it reads.
“Without this increase in funding, CBP will not have the flexibility to adequately respond to a significant surge of UCs in FY 2016,” he added.
The influx at the border is slightly down compared to the same time last year. So far this fiscal year more than 15,640 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally entering the U.S. through the southwest border. Last year at this time more than 28,579 unaccompanied minors had been apprehended.
In testimony before the subcommittee Thursday, according to CNS News, Kerlikowske noted that while there has been a 48 percent decline in CBP “encounters” with unaccompanied alien children compared to the same period last year, “it would be a mistake to pat ourselves on the back for those lower numbers, because we don’t know what the future will bring.”
A footnote to Kerlikowske’s testimony notes that since the likelihood of a massive surge in illegal immigrant youths is lower the request is being scored at $24.4 million.
“Because of the low probability of such a high number of UCs attempting to enter the United States in FY 2016, the Budget scores the requested increase at $24.4 million,” it reads. “An additional $4.7 million will be utilized for supplies for UCs at Border Patrol (BP) Stations and Land Ports of Entry (LPOEs). This requested funding will be used to procure a standardized set of supplies and personal hygiene items that will be provided to mothers and unaccompanied children at BP stations and LPOEs.”