On March 16, 2017, President Donald Trump's Budget Amendment for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 [PDF version] and Budget Blueprint for FY 2018 [PDF version] were delivered to Congress. The Budget Amendment for FY 2017 contains budget proposals from the Trump Administration. It is important to note, however, that budget proposals from the President are only requests to Congress. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of Congress to determine the contents of the budget and pass a budget into law for the president's signature.
On the same day that the budget was released, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a press release titled “Administration's Fiscal Years 207 Budget Amendment and 2018 Budget Requests Advance DHS Operations” [link].
In the news release, the DHS explains that the FY 2017 Budget Amendment “includes $3 billion for the [DHS] to implement Executive Orders that strengthen border security, enhance enforcement of immigration laws, and ensure public safety in communities across the United States” [see article]. Likewise, the DHS states that the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint “requests $44.1 billion in discretionary budget authority for DHS, a $2.8 billion or 6.8 percent increase from the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution level.” We discussed Congress's passing of a continuing resolution to fund the government last December in terms of its impact on the immigration laws [see blog].
The DHS notes some of the specific ways that the President's proposed Budget Amendment and Budget Blueprint implicate its immigration enforcement efforts:
- Funds hiring of 500 new United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Agents, 1,000 new United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ICE enforcement personnel, and associated support staff.
- Provides an investment of $2.6 billion “for high priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to continue planning, designing, and constructing a border wall.”
- Increases funding by 1.5 billion from the 2017 Annualized Continuing Resolution level “to expand detention, transportation, and removal of illegal immigrants.”
- “Invests $15 million to begin implementation of mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify Program.”
In a statement, the Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, praised the proposed budget. Secretary Kelly stated: “The president's budget requests demonstrate a renewed focus on supporting the hard work of the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security.”
However, a report published in the Washington Times by Stephen Dinan suggests that the proposed budget increases for immigration enforcement activities may not be as dramatic as they appear at first glance.1 Firstly, the report notes that with regard to the proposed funding for a border wall, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, described the $2.6 billion requested as merely a “a start on the program.” Furthermore, the article notes that the ICE and CBP have not yet created plans to meet the hiring targets set forth in President Trump's recent Executive Orders on border security and interior enforcement, and that members of both parties in Congress “are waiting for more details.” Specifically, it notes that “[t]he Border Patrol is already struggling in hiring and is down more than 1,700 agents from the level Congress has demanded.”
The Washington Times article also notes a couple of immigration-related provisions of the budget that are not addressed in the DHS press release. The 2018 budget proposes funds that would “pay for 75 more immigration judges, 100 more prosecutors to handle immigration cases[,] and 40 deputy U.S. Marshals to help transport illegal immigrants.”
Congress seldom passes budgets that are in strict accord with the budgetary requests of the White House. For this reason, budget proposals from the White House should be looked at as more of s a statement of priorities than an actual budget proposal. In that sense, President Trump's budget proposals for the DHS reflect a clear desire to increase its capacity to enforce all of the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) related to the removal of aliens in the United States illegally and immigration detention. The amount of funding that is ultimately provided by Congress will go a long way toward determining how successful President Trump will be in meeting his immigration enforcement goals.
We will post updates on the website as the budget process moves forward over the next month.