Congress Must Reject Biden’s Radical Budget Request for Illegal Aliens
FAIR Take | September 2022
Lawmakers are eager to avoid another government shutdown before a consequential midterm election when voters will decide which party controls Congress. But their plan to pass a short-term bill to keep the federal government funded could run into trouble unless the parties can strike an agreement on what additional priorities, if any, should be included.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats on Capitol Hill are using President Biden’s radical $5.8 trillion 2023 budget request as a blueprint to not only continue funding the bloated bureaucracy at current levels, but also do things like provide universal legal representation for unaccompanied illegal alien children. To hear them tell it, this would “help children navigate complex immigration court proceedings.” Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by openness to such a handout to illegal aliens given this administration’s proclivity for open borders and lax enforcement. Even so, the rot of this proposal – and the fact Pelosi and Schumer are even open to it – is especially breathtaking. Let’s explore.
To be sure, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of criminal defendants to a lawyer, and many criminals are routinely assigned public defenders if they cannot afford one. But that doesn’t apply here. An immigration court hearing is a civil administrative proceeding involving a foreigner, not a criminal trial of an American. The illegal alien, or respondent, can hire an attorney if they choose, but there is no Constitutional requirement for the court to appoint one at taxpayer expense, just as there’s no requirement to impanel a jury of peers for such a hearing.
Days ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally provided a cost estimate for this part of the Biden request: an additional $30 billion over ten years. This is on top of $20.4 billion already borne annually by hardworking taxpayers to support millions of illegal aliens released into the U.S. interior under Biden, according to a recent FAIR analysis. Add that to the $140 billion a year taxpayers have been forced to pay for the longer-term illegal alien population, which FAIR estimates is around 15.5 million as of April 2022, and the cost is astronomical. For such sums the U.S. could build the border wall several times over, hire hundreds of thousands more police officers (and pay them better), house our homeless veterans, or accomplish any number of other priorities for our own citizens.
Biden’s 2023 budget request also would “help ensure that unaccompanied immigrant children are unified with relatives and sponsors as safely and quickly as possible and receive appropriate care and services…” The government would provide “enhanced case management and post-release services” on the taxpayer dime. Biden is signaling to would-be illegal entrants and traffickers that unaccompanied children will be well cared for and provided a range of free services – including legal help – for violating our immigration law. This is not a privilege afforded to our own citizens, nor is it afforded to those seeking to immigrate legally to the United States. Such privileges would exacerbate the crisis already raging at the southern border, where Border Patrol is now regularly making over 200,000 apprehensions per month.
To add insult to injury, the budget request ponders a “multiyear contingency fund” to “automatically provide additional resources when there are large increases in [unaccompanied children] referrals.” What is intended by “additional resources” is not explained, and this is no doubt by design. Vague terminology leaves open the possibility for unelected, nameless, faceless bureaucrats to allocate taxpayer money for all manner of additional freebies in years to come. We have already seen this administration provide smartphones to illegal aliens, ostensibly to track them after release from custody. Of course, there are more effective tools to do this, such as an ankle monitor, but they shouldn’t be released in the first place. According to the government’s own statistics, nearly half of those with asylum claims in process in FY2019 failed to appear for their hearing. That represented a steep climb from FY2011, when just 24% failed to appear, and will no doubt continue to climb as the number of migrants released – many without court dates at all – soars under this administration. We can only guess what might be tried after smartphones. Free iPads? Free electric cars? Whatever Biden’s bureaucrats cook up could be funded from the “multiyear contingency fund,” with no cap on future allocations. And there will naturally be increases in referrals of unaccompanied children if they are offered the perks above.
Finally, the budget provides $6.3 billion to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to “rebuild the Nation’s refugee resettlement infrastructure” and support 125,000 refugees in 2023. For contrast, President Trump proposed a more modest and sustainable cap of 15,000 refugees for fiscal year 2021, which overlapped his final months in office. If this sounds low, consider that Japan – a highly developed and advanced economy – accepted just 915 refugees out of 87,892 applicants (about 1%) in the 40-year period from 1982 to 2022. This is not for lack of compassion – far from it. At a time when inflation and crime are soaring, public budgets are under strain, and the national debt has exploded past $30 trillion, we must have compassion for our own citizens first. Recent criminal activity by refugees has shown that – in too many cases – vetting has failed and resulted in harm to our own citizens. Consider, for instance, the recent slayings of four Muslim men in New Mexico allegedly perpetrated by a refugee. Or the September 2021 assault on a female military service member at Fort Bliss in New Mexico, allegedly perpetrated by a refugee. Or other assaults that month at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin – some of which were sexual assaults against minors under 16 – allegedly perpetrated by refugees. The list goes on. Before opening our doors to more refugees, we ought to at least pause and strengthen our vetting processes to ensure such atrocities do not occur again.
Ultimately, Congress – not the President – has the power of the purse. We call on Congress to reject these egregious funding requests for illegal aliens. Funds appropriated to the federal government must enhance our border security, strengthen our refugee vetting, and support a more sustainable immigration policy.