Democrats Ram Omnibus Spending Bill Through Congress
FAIR Take | December 2022
On their way out the door, Democrats couldn’t help but ram through another costly spending bill full of harmful immigration provisions, this one more than 4,000 pages to the tune of nearly $2 trillion.
With a storm bearing down, on Thursday afternoon the Senate moved the bill to the House by a vote of 68-29. Later Friday, the House approved it by a margin of 225-201. Members supporting the bill included 18 Republicans in the Senate and 9 Republicans in the House.
Filled to overflowing with Democratic pet projects that couldn’t pass as standalone legislation, the omnibus not only does nothing to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, or the looming end of Title 42, it actually gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) more money to process illegal aliens into the country.
The bill provides $1.563 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to manage the border, but explicitly does not allow using those funds to hire permanent border security officers, deport illegal aliens, or expand border security technologies and capabilities unless it is for improving the processing of illegal aliens. This is not “border management,” it is $1.563 billion to convert CBP into a federal travel agency for illegal aliens.
Likewise, it provides $800 million from CBP to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for “sheltering and other services” through grant programs awarded to open-borders non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities. This broad appropriation will only entice others to illegally enter the country – and there is no prohibition against the monies being distributed to organizations in the interior, meaning that aliens could be sheltered throughout the country.
The bill also allows the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to accept private donations from politically motivated organizations for the care of unaccompanied alien children. And it gives funds to both CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transport unaccompanied alien children, a key enticement for parents to pay smugglers to take their children on the dangerous trek up to the southern border and proof that domestic transportation throughout the United States is a large part of CBP and ICE operations.
It doesn’t stop there though.
The act prohibits the construction of border fencing in certain areas and allocates millions for a controversial case management pilot program (CMPP) to aid illegal aliens facing deportation, a program being overseen by a nonprofit that has previously called for the defunding and abolition of ICE.
It provides $29 million for the Justice Department’s Legal Orientation Program (LOP), which empowers NGOs to coach large groups of detained aliens on immigration court proceedings. The effectiveness of that program is dubious as it does not provide actual legal counsel to aliens, those who use LOP are less likely to get an attorney, and their matters take longer to resolve. Additionally, program participant organizations often blur the line between providing basic information about the process and advocacy.
Under the guise of increasing efficiency, the bill further sends $25 million to the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, a program utilized by many of the same NGOs receiving federal grant money to process illegal aliens. This self-congratulatory grant program has routinely awarded organizations involved in active litigation against DHS and does nothing to enhance the administration of our immigration system.
And it leaves it up to the DHS Inspector General’s discretion whether to allocate funds for partnerships between state and local law enforcement to assist in enforcing immigration laws. While seemingly an independent auditor, DHS’ Office of Inspector General has been mired in reports of political bias. We have already witnessed the dangerous consequences of an administration unwilling to utilize the 287(g) program, with the Obama era having seen a plethora of cancelled agreements.
Not content with even that, the act allows detention contracts to be rescinded based on arbitrary performance evaluations and extends discretionary authority for DHS to issue more H-2B guest worker visas than the cap allows, displacing American workers and driving down wages.
It provides funds to expedite adjudication of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa cases, as well as a cap increase of 4,000. With recent reports exposing the lack of proper vetting for many Afghans in the program and the associated risks to public safety and national security, expediting these claims further increases such risks.
Perhaps most glaringly, all budget increases included in the bill directed towards immigration enforcement are below inflation, and simply insufficient to meet the unprecedented crisis on our southern border.
Outside the omnibus, however, a number of other damaging immigration proposals were fortunately defeated in the lame duck session:
- A mass amnesty proposal led by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in exchange for an extension of a weakened Title 42 and other meaningless promises of future immigration enforcement.
- The Afghan Adjustment Act, which would have granted permanent residence to largely unvetted Afghans who were allowed to enter the country under President Biden’s abuse of parole authority. Most of the Afghans who arrived in the U.S. after the administration’s disastrous withdrawal in 2021 played no role in assisting U.S. forces.
- An agriculture bill containing both an amnesty for illegal aliens and an expanded guestworker program. The last farmworker amnesty, crafted in part by current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) when he was in the House, was the most fraud-ridden immigration program in American history.
- The Biden Administration’s attempt to slash ICE detention capacity by 30 percent.
- An amendment to the omnibus led by Senators Sinema and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), which sought to process and release illegal aliens into our country more efficiently.
- The EAGLE Act, which would have resulted in more than 90 percent of employment-based green cards being awarded to citizens of just two countries: China and India.
- The misleadingly named Veterans Service Recognition Act, which would have provided amnesty for illegal alien relatives of veterans and even allowed deported criminals to return to the U.S.
Despite these victories, though, Congress ended its year by passing yet another disastrous spending bill, throwing our borders open even wider and saddling state and local governments with the costs of caring for illegal aliens.
The American people deserve better. Next session, Congress must secure the border and address the humanitarian crisis that the Biden Administration has created.