Massive Omnibus Bill Contains Nothing to Combat Border Crisis
In the middle of the night (literally) on December 20, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations released a $1.7 Trillion (with a “T”) omnibus funding measure for Fiscal Year 2023. Despite the text of the bill totaling 4,155 pages, the Senate only has three days to consider it before government funding runs out.
Despite the bloated size of this bill and ridiculously short timeframe in which the Senate has to consider it, the omnibus does effectively nothing to combat the growing crisis at the Southern Border. In fact, portions of it forbid federal agencies from doing so. Of the additional $400 million given to the Border Patrol, the text requires that none of the funds be used “to acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities, except for technology and capabilities to improve Border Patrol processing.” This means that the entirety of the new Border Patrol funding must be used to help process illegal aliens and, in most cases, usher them into the United States.
To that end, the bill also creates a new $800 million dollar grant program to local governments and non-profits that offer shelter and services to illegal aliens released into the country by the federal government. While local governments certainly need assistance to combat President Biden’s border crisis, the most effective assistance that could be provided to them is a secure border and the enforcement of our immigration laws.
Additionally, the omnibus only allocates 0.14 percent in additional funding to the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). With annual inflation still hovering at around 8 percent, this amounts to a significant decrease in ICE funding at a time when thousands of new illegal aliens are entering the country’s interior every day. Similarly, Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) saw a budget increase that fell short of the current inflation rate.
Finally, as always occurs in any funding package, hundreds of millions of dollars in pork barrel spending is earmarked for individual entities at the request of congressional members. These allocations are not included in the main text of the bill, but are instead hidden in supplemental documents. This includes millions allocated to immigration-related organizations, such as:
- $500,000 toward a “new immigrant community empowerment” fund touted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
- $750,000 toward the TransLatin@ Coalition, which provides “workforce development programs and supportive services for Transgender and Gender nonconforming and Intersex immigrant women in Los Angeles.”
- $1 million to expand an immigrant-exclusive “community center” in New York
- $1.2 million to the San Diego Community College to provide special services to illegal aliens who hold DACA status.
There is a silver lining in this otherwise disappointing budget measure. Democrats did not attempt to use it as an avenue to pass the Sinema-Tillis amnesty, nor was some form of the FAIR-opposed EAGLE Act included. Considering this was effectively the last chance for Democrats to pass this type of legislation before Republicans take control of the House on January 3, it’s a big win.
What this budget shows is that Democrats in Congress have no interest in addressing the raging crisis at the Southern Border. In fact, they are taking special measures to ensure that CBP is forbidden from using additional funding to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. So, while it’s certainly great news that Democrats have been unable to pass the biggest items on their immigration wish list during the lame duck session, we shouldn’t let that fool us into believing that relief is on the horizon.