LWVUS joined immigrant and justice advocacy groups on a Defund Hate letter to House leadership calling for no funding increases for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). With the 2021 Continuing Resolution debated in the House this week, it was critical that legislators reject any increased funding mechanisms for ICE and CBP.
September 16, 2020
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, Chairwoman Roybal-Allard, and Ranking Member Fleischmann; Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer,Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Capito, and Ranking Member Tester:
The undersigned organizations write to urge you to oppose any anomalies or any other funding mechanism that would increase funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a Fiscal Year 2021 Continuing Resolution, including the anomaly requested for CBP by the Office of Management and Budget. The consequence of a Continuing Resolution - which continues Fiscal Year 2020’s astronomical funding levels for CBP and ICE - will be harmful and deadly for countless immigrants, the millions who call the border region home, and people across the country now confronting armed CBP officials at political protests. Filling these agencies’ coffers even higher through an anomaly orsurreptitious transfer of funds would be reckless .
CBP and ICE’s budgets are historically overfunded and bloated. Since the inception of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s budget has more than doubled and CBP’s has tripled. The agencies are notoriously careless with the funds Congress appropriates them. Just months ago, the Government Accountability Office found that CBP violated the Purpose Clause of the Anti-Deficiency Act by spending money appropriated by Congress for humanitarian aid as part of the 2019 Emergency Supplemental and using it for all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, and building equipment. Neither CBP nor ICE needs more1 money, and it would be irresponsible to give more funds to agencies that repeatedly disregard Congress and fail to use their current money as required by law.
Nor should Congress reward CBP with extra funding for staffing at a time when it is using its personnel to suppress and surveill political dissent and militarize cities without the permission or cooperation of2 local elected officials3 using “undisciplined, unnecessary and excessive force.”4 Using a strained reading of the law that a federal judge recently referred to as “poppycock,” the Department of Homeland Security has been deploying border patrol agents to interview arriving asylum seekers, a policy that requires recently traumatized asylum seekers to recount their past persecution to armed officers in order to even get a shot at an asylum hearing. Recently, CBP has even been caught using funds to5 create a dramatized depiction of imaginary political pulp violence intended to stir up fear and nativism.6
CBP and ICE must urgently be reined in, which requires fewer taxpayer dollars and more guardrails and restrictions on the use of funding. Now is the time to hold these agencies accountable to their appropriated budgets by rejecting any anomalies or other mechanisms that would increase their funding and instead investing taxpayer dollars to increase community well-being and rebuild from the pandemic’s catastrophic effects.
See attached for full list of national and state signers
1 Government Accountability Office, Matter of: U.S. Customs and Border Protection—Obligations of AmountsAppropriated in the 2019 Emergency Supplemental, File: B-331888, June 11, 2020,https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/707500.pdf.
2See, e.g., Carol D. Leonnig and Nick Miroff, Washington Post, “Secret service sought tactical aircraft to protectWhite House amid Floyd demonstrations,” Aug. 13, 2020,https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/secret-service-sought-tactical-aircraft-to-protect-white-house-amid-floyd-demonstrations/2020/08/13/3ceea32a-d5ae-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html; Jonathan Levison et al.,NPR, “Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms,” July 17, 2020,https://www.npr.org/2020/07/17/892277592/federal-officers-use-unmarked-vehicles-to-grab-protesters-in-portland.
3See, e.g., Reuters, “U.S., Oregon agree to phase out federal agents from Portland,” July 29, 2020,https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-race-protests/oregon-says-federal-agents-to-pull-back-from-portland-after-clashes-idUSKCN24U2GW.
4Rebecca Ellis, “ACLU Adds Federal Agencies to Lawsuit Against Portland Police,” OPB, July 17, 2020,https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-aclu-federal-law-enforcement-portland-police-lawsuit/;
Mark Hosenball, “U.S. Homeland Security confirms three units sent paramilitary officers to Portland,” Reuters, July21,2020,https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-race-protests-agents/u-s-homeland-security-confirms-three-units-sent-paramilitary-officers-to-portland-idUSKCN24M2RL;
Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, “Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection chief calls federal officers’ actionsin Portland: ‘undisciplined, unnecessary and excessive force,’” Aug. 16, 2020,https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2020/08/former-us-customs-and-border-protection-chief-calls-federal-officers-actions-in-portland-undisciplined-unnecessary-and-excessive-force.html;
Temporary Restraining Order Enjoining Federal Agents,Index Newspapers et al. v. City of Portland et al., No.3:20-cv-1035-SI (Dist. Ct. Or.).
5 Vanessa Romo, NPR, “Poppycock: Federal Judge Bars CBP Employees from Screening Asylum Seekers,” Sept. 1,2020,https://www.npr.org/2020/09/01/908159565/poppycock-federal-judge-bars-cbp-employees-from-screening-asylum-seekers.
6 Nick Miroff, Washington Post, “The border patrol made this dramatized video showing migrant killing innocentvictim in a dark alley,” Sept. 4, 2020,https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-border-patrol-made-this-dramatized-video-showing-migrant-murdering-innocent-victim-in-a-dark-alley/2020/09/04/11ad3620-ee9c-11ea-a21a-0fbbe90cfd8c_story.html.
This background paper was produced as part of the League's two-year (2006-2008) study of Immigration aimed at helping communities understand the implications of immigration at the local, state, and federal level. At the bottom of each paper is a link to a downloadable PDF version. "....The United States is often called a nation of immigrants. And it is. The quotation above expresses the diversity of immigrants and those of immigrant stock, and the vitality this diversity contributes to America. Certainly, new arrivals have a different perspective of immigration from those who have been here a while and those whose roots in America go a long way back. For recent arrivals, the immigration experience is immediate and still in process. For Native Americans, the impact of immigration goes back a long way and frequently continues to have a personal resonance. For those whose immigrant status dates back as recently as their parents’ or grandparents’ arrival in this country or more than 400 years when their ancestors arrived, immigration is a more distant event. ..."
It struck me that the League doesn’t just ask others, like Congress to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform or the Supreme Court to continue to protect voting rights, we foster civic life and democracy through the very way we operate.