Want funding for E-Verify? Done.
In last year’s budget battle, Rep. Tom Price, incoming House Budget Committee Chairman, proposed funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of February. (DHS oversees immigration by way of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).)
The idea was that if funding for DHS and subsequent entities were held until the Republicans had a majority in both houses, Republicans would be in a strategically advantageous position to enact substantive reforms and direct more resources to our national borders.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee released the DHS appropriations bill. Next week, the bill will be considered on the House floor, making it the last of the annual appropriations bills for this fiscal year.
Overall, DHS is slated to receive an increase of $400 million from last fiscal year, giving the agency a budget of $39.7 billion. As the bill currently reads, the surge in funding and substantial reallocations will be poured into enforcement agencies like Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) who are responsible for border protection and confiscating contraband, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are the “round ’em up and detain ’em while they await trial” folks.
CBP will receive an extra $118 million with the aim of providing more support than the agency has ever received since it’s creation in 2003. Almost $400 million is allocated to border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology. Funding has been allocated to add more than 2,000 additional CBP officers to it’s current force of 21,370. CBP’s total budget in this bill clocks in at $10.7 billion.
Getting a raise of almost $700 million, ICE will receive a total of $5.96 billion. More than half of ICE’s total budget is allocated to detention centers. E-verify will be funded, as will efforts to curb human trafficking, drug smuggling, and visa vetting processes. $1.6 billion is devoted specifically to “identify[ing] aliens convicted of a crime who may be deportable, and [removing] them from the United States once they are judged deportable.” The bill also instructs the DHS Secretary to, “prioritize the identification and removal of aliens convicted of a crime by the severity of that crime.”
Funds have been allocated across the board to beef up technology, which will ultimately allow DHS to keep better track of those entering and exiting the country (an issue that’s long been problematic).
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s budget is being cut by a whopping $94 million.
There’s no mention of USCIS in the bill for a simple reason — it’s supported by immigration application fees. These fees are paid predominantly by those maintaining legal status when they extend work authorization, change visa types, or apply for naturalization, etc. Even green cards must be extended in some cases.
As a means of squashing Obama’s immigration overreach, House Republicans are expected to submit amendments to the appropriations bill (likely this weekend) to further restrict where and how DHS funds can be spent. Congressmen like Representative Alderholt (R-AL) have offered legislation that seeks to remove Presidential discretion from immigration matters. Sources on the Hill indicate these ideas and other will be incorporated into amendments to the appropriations bill, culminating in a unified immigration response from Hill Republicans.
We will continue to bring you developments on the immigration battle as they happen.
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