The Trump Administration continues to make good on its threat to the undocumented immigrant community and to American communities as a whole. In the administration’s first 100 days, there has been a 157% increase in immigration arrests of people with no prior criminal convictions.
However, there’s more to come.
The White House has recently submitted its proposal for the budget of Fiscal Year 2018. It’s marked by increased funding for measures that would undermine due process and principles of fairness for immigrants.
Since its founding, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has understood the vital role immigrants play in our neighborhoods and economy. The Executive Director of AILA, Benjamin Johnson, said about it, “Nowhere in this budget is there any recognition that immigrants have been crucial to America’s success. This budget ignores the desperate need in our country for smart immigration reform that will benefit all Americans and offer a chance for the undocumented to legalize their status—something 90 percent of Americans want. This budget fails on so many levels.”
Here’s how it fails:
Unnecessary Funding for Deportation Enforcement
The new budget wants to add billions in additional funds for deportation forces nationwide, specifically for ICE (Immigrations & Customs Enforcement). This would include a 66% increase in funding for detention programs as well as the hiring of 1,500 additional enforcement agents. This increase in enforcement is unwarranted, both in terms of budget and public safety.
When it comes to the deportation process, we previously commented that the problem wasn’t lack of enforcement—it was lack of judges and staffing for the judicial process. With increased funding for enforcement, we’re looking at an even greater disparity between undocumented immigrants in detention vs. access to due process.
The 66% increase in funding for detention programs will directly lead to a 66% increase in detention beds (to 51,379 beds total). In order to fill these beds to capacity (thus justifying their purchase), ICE agents will need to detain thousands of long-term residents who have never posed a threat to the public.
Increased Funding for Unnecessary Border “Protection”
Border apprehensions have actually decreased steadily over the last 20 years—there’s simply less need for stringent border protections. That hasn’t affected the White House’s decision to devote $1.6 billion to building a border wall along the boundary of Mexico. Increased funding to Border Patrol will also go toward 500 more agents, all of whom will receive less screening and training than current agents.
The budget stipulates a $1.3 billion cut to the International Disaster Assistance fund, most of which went to refugee relief. Humanitarian assistance funds were also cut from the budget.
Narrow-Focused Funding to the Justice Department
Money will also be funneled toward the Justice Department for the hiring of 70 new U.S. Attorneys, whose job will be to prosecute immigration offenses. This massive injection of funding into a narrow area of the Justice Department indicates that there will be less attention paid to more dangerous federal crimes, which the Justice Department is also responsible to investigate and prosecute.
These are only a few of the potentially dangerous ways that the White House plans to continue its assault on undocumented immigrants—members of our community, people who contribute to our economy and live law abiding lives. Our firm will continue to fight for undocumented immigrants in the face of an administration that threatens to undermine the structures and values that have made America great for generations.
If you are concerned about your status as an immigrant in the United States, call our firm. We offer confidential consultations to answer your questions.