President Biden Sends a Request to Congress for Blank Check to Fund Border Crisis
In an acknowledgment that the southern border is in a state of crisis, President Biden sent a request to Capitol Hill on August 10 seeking over $4 billion for emergency supplemental funding to “manage the Southwest border safely and effectively.” Notably, the request does not include funding to finish the border wall or include any changes to the law which would ultimately fix many of the problems that have arisen since Biden took office.
In the supplemental budget request, the President has asked for a total of $40 billion, much of which would go to efforts in Ukraine. The $4 billion request for border security would include 2.65 billion for border management and shelter and services for illegal aliens, $416 million for fentanyl trafficking efforts, $800 million for Department of State migration services activities, and $100 million to enforce child labor laws and protect migrant children from exploitive conditions. On top of the border security funding, $100 million is requested for Ukrainian refugees in the United States.
The President’s request for $600 million for the Shelter and Services Program (SSP) is clearly a band-aid and an effort to fund non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their efforts to provide assistance – including housing, food, clothing, and transportation services to illegal border crossers. The additional funding comes for SSP comes after hundreds of millions of dollars have already been allocated to the program and its predecessor, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). In May 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General released a report showing that funds allocated to EFSP for illegal aliens were being mismanaged and recommending additional oversight of those funds.
Unfortunately, the President has failed to put forward any solutions or changes in the statute that would help alleviate the crisis, even though he and other Administration officials have claimed the law is broken. In reality, it is the President’s own policies and open-border initiatives that are causing a surge at the border.
If Congress is to consider this supplemental funding request from the President, it must include changes that have been considered, debated, and passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. In fact, the House passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, which includes the following provisions:
- Restarts construction of the border wall;
- Adds thousands more Border Patrol agents, provides the needed resources, and gives them bonuses for working night and day to keep our nation safe;
- Provides additional technology at border ports of entry to detect and prevent the entry of narcotics, contraband, and illegal migrants;
- Reforms our asylum process to deter frivolous claims and prohibit gang members, felons, and drunk drivers from benefitting from our asylum system;
- Ends catch-and-release by strengthening our ability to detain, remove and return those aliens to their home country or another safe country;
- Prevents unaccompanied alien children surges at the border in a humanitarian way, ensuring they are screened and processed expeditiously with family members and sent home;
- Ends the DHS Secretary’s authority to grant humanitarian parole, so that broad, category-based parole programs cannot be established to circumvent Congress; and
- Mandates the use of E-Verify for all employers in a responsible, phased-in way.
FAIR credits congressional members for coming out strong against a blank check for President Biden, sending a letter stating they could not support a funding bill that did not include provisions to strengthen the southern border. The letter states, “Simply put, no member of Congress should agree to fund a federal agency at war with his state and people. We have a moral obligation to protect our states, our nation, and, importantly, the migrant children getting abused from the disaster transpiring at our southern border…No border security, no funding.”
According to Roll Call, Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) also called on President Biden to sign H.R. 2, demanded that the federal government reimburse Texas for billions spent to secure the border, and called for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ resignation.
Both the Senate and House have also passed DHS appropriations bills out of committee. Though the House bill includes several troubling provisions expanding H-2A and H-2B visas for foreign guest workers, it also includes critical policy changes and much-needed funding for border security that should also be considered in any supplemental funding request. The bill, if signed into law, would:
- Provide over $2 billion for the construction of a physical wall along the southwest border;
- Increase funding to support a record high of 22,000 Border Patrol agents;
- Restore funding for border security technology, including towers, aerostats, counter drones, and new innovative technology;
- Fund ICE’s ability to detain up to 41,000 aliens on a given day (up from 25,000) and provide over $3.5 billion for custody operations;
- Prohibit funding to be used for ICE detainees for gender-affirming care and the facilitation of abortions;
- Restore pay cuts to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and provide $44 million for workforce care and suicide prevention programs;
- Prohibit funding for the CBP One mobile application that is facilitating the entry of illegal aliens at the border today;
- Instruct ICE to continue to utilize the 287(g) program to allow state and local law enforcement to help in enforcing our immigration laws;
- Prohibit funding to be used for “Alternatives to Detention” (ATD) programs unless the Secretary certifies to Congress that there is insufficient detention capacity;
- Prohibit the Administration from implementing a Biden rule to allow asylum officers to make final asylum determinations; and
- Eliminate the Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman.
Congress is in recess until September 5, at which time they may consider the President’s request.