House Moves to Cripple ICE and the Border Patrol


August 3, 2020

By Tom Homan

The House Appropriations Committee recently released the draft fiscal year 2021 Homeland Security funding bill, which provides annual funding for the components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It should come to no one’s surprise that the bill is being used as a political football by those who seek a borderless America and all the human misery that would come with it.

The Democratic leadership in the House are changing their tactics. Instead of trying to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol, they have decided to starve them of money so they cannot succeed in their mission. They are making it impossible to keep the successes on the border made by the Trump administration. As part of the new threat from the left to defund law enforcement, they are taking pleasure in doing the same thing to the agencies in charge of immigration enforcement.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) made the following statement when releasing their proposal:

With the nation facing threats ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to terrorism and targeted violent extremism, our bill provides DHS with the funding it needs to protect American communities, including vital investments in disaster preparedness, secure seaports and borders, safety for air travelers, and cybersecurity. Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year. We also include new measures to keep the administration accountable and transparent – including a prohibition on diverting any new money for President Trump’s racist border wall boondoggle.”

Wrong, this bill will make our border less secure and our communities less safe. That is a fact.

First, the bill they are proposing gives $144.7 million to maintain the current schedule for development of the DHS headquarters campus at the St. Elizabeth’s hospital facility in southeast Washington, D.C. That is a boondoggle, not the wall that will secure our border and keep America safer.

Every place we have built a border barrier, it has resulted in less illegal immigration and less illegal drug flow. That is a fact backed up by data. Less women are being raped by the cartels and less people are dying making the journey. Walls not only help to secure our border; they also save lives. And this isn’t Trump’s “racist” wall, it is America’s wall. Many Democrats have voted for border barriers in the past. Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden, to name a few, voted for barriers in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Was the wall racist then? Why did they vote for what they are now calling a racist wall?

DHS does not need new digs at Elizabeths, an area that is not compatible with their mission and does not have any mass transit to get thousands of employees to work. It needs the resources to effectively keep our nation safe.

The bill also gives $36.2 million for the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, $11.4 million above the DHS request. The House had no problem increasing the DHS budget in this area rather than enforcement. They think it is more important to oversee the officers that arrest criminals. They also propose another $20 million for the Office of Immigration Detention Ombudsman, $20 million above what DHS asked for. Again, less money for enforcement but more money for a bureaucrat who is there to serve as an illegal alien Ombudsman.

What the budget also did was provide zero funding for additional Border Patrol Agents or border barriers. It also rescinds $1.374 billion from the fiscal year 2020 Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account in response to the President’s diversion of Department of Defense funding for border barrier construction. In all, they decreased the requested funding for CBP by $1.15 billion.

The bill also decreases the requested funding amount for ICE by $2.4 billion. They also took a majority of funding from detention. Earlier this year, ICE had 52,000 aliens in custody. The proposed bill sets the new limit at 22,000 single adults in detention, of which 12,000 beds are unavailable during the public health emergency. In short, 10,000 beds when they had 52,000 in custody. They are also ending family detention by the end of 2020.

So, Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, your statement is a bold lie to the American people and this bill will help undo the historic success that President Trump has had on our border.

He has achieved an overall 85 percent decrease in illegal crossings since May of last year. You want to take away the border barriers that the men and women of the Border Patrol wanted. The barriers are being built exactly how these men and women requested and in the areas they prioritized. It is working and you want to remove this valuable tool these brave officers need to not only protect this nation but keep them safer too.

This bill also doesn’t protect American communities as you said, either. Eighty-nine percent of ICE arrests are for either a convicted criminal or an alien with pending criminal charges. How is decreasing the available detention beds by 80 percent keeping this country safer? ICE will be forced to release dangerous public safety threats back into the public to put our communities in harm’s way.

How do less Border Patrol Agents or less ICE officers adequately protect this nation? Less enforcement means more bad guys not being arrested. It is simple math. This bill is an insult to this nation and to the men and women that enforce this country’s laws. Laws, by the way, that you as a member of Congress wrote and enacted. Now you won’t let the good guys enforce them.

Tom Homan is the former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a Senior Fellow at theImmigration Reform Law Institute.

Also published at: Tom Homan, House Moves to Cripple ICE and the Border Patrol, Townhall, August 3, 2020.

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.