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Trump Administration’s FY18 Budget Focused on Immigration Enforcement

The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget has requested a massive increase in funding for immigration enforcement and border security. If approved, the overall Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget would increase by $1.7 billion over FY17. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget would increase by $7.57 billion, an 18 percent increase, and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) budget would increase by $13.93 billion, a 17 percent increase.

ICE Budget
The proposed ICE budget has four major components: (1) high levels of funding for detention facilities; (2) lower detention facility standards; (3) an increase in the total number of ICE agents; and (4) forcing compliance with immigration detainers.

First, the budget requests an increase of $900 million to maintain an average daily detained population of 51,379. This is a 66 percent increase from FY17, which provided for 34,000 detention beds. A massive expansion such as this raises a few eyebrows, especially considering southwest border apprehensions are down roughly 75 percent since 2016. The extra beds are likely in anticipation of increased interior enforcement efforts. Detaining such a large number of people per day means the administration will need to target long-time residents and families living in the country unlawfully.

Second, the DHS disclosed that of the roughly 200 adult detention facilities utilized by ICE, only 25 will be required to meet ICE detention standards. The DHS noted that field offices struggle to find new detention facilities because many are unable or unwilling to meet ICE detention standards.

Third, the FY18 budget requests funds to hire an additional 1,000 ICE agents. Some consider this number to be unnecessary given substantial declines in border apprehension rates, but it follows the Trump administration’s promise to ramp up deportation efforts.

Fourth, the budget attempts to force compliance with immigration detainers. As it stands, federal law does not require localities to comply with ICE detainers and many do not. Noncompliance grows out of concern for the general public. Local officials worry that increased immigration enforcement could lead to a lack of trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. As a result, individuals may become less likely to report crimes.

The administration has responded. The proposed budget asks Congress to prohibit localities from limiting compliance with detainers at the risk of losing important federal funding. This could lead to another potential clash between the states and President Trump. The new policy, if approved, could be interpreted as an attempt by the federal government to commandeer local government resources in order to implement federal laws in violation of the 10th Amendment.

CBP Budget
The administration’s new CBP budget seeks $2.6 billion to develop and deploy new infrastructure and border security technology. This includes $1.6 billion to plan, design and construct a wall along the southern border of the United States. There is, however, a catch. This large sum of money would only pay to construct part of the wall. It would include planning activates for further border wall construction, but it would not fund the wall to completion.

The FY18 CBP budget also requests funds to hire an additional 500 CBP officers. This number has been criticized considering the fact that CBP has a hard time filling its currently-funded positions. Nearly two-thirds of applicants fail the polygraph test.

DOJ, USCIS & Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance
The 2018 budget makes three other important requests. First, it seeks to hire 70 new U.S. Attorneys at the Department of Justice to prosecute immigration-related offenses. Second, it requests nearly $132 million for the E-verify program. This money would be used to work towards mandatory, nationwide use of the program. Third, it proposes slashed funding for international refugee and humanitarian assistance. The budget requests a 31 percent cut to refugee resettlement programs and the complete elimination of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account.

If you have questions on immigrating to the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!