Earlier today, President Trump asked Congress to find $3 billion in funding to pay for the president’s immigration executive orders through the end of September 2017. This request comes as an addition to the billions of dollars Congress has already given the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2017 operations. In particular, the White House requests supplemental funds to pay for the border wall, an expansion to ICE’s immigration detention system, and to prepare to hire more Border Patrol and ICE agents.
As the president’s most expensive immigration policing project, the additional funding would pay for the early stages of border wall construction. The president asked for $18 million for project management expenses specifically related to the wall; $999 million for planning, design, and construction of the wall’s first installment under President Trump; and $179 million to build roads and gates that would allow access to the physical territory on which the wall would be constructed. Interestingly, there is no request for funds to pay the private landowners whose property would have to be taken by the government to build the wall along parts of the border, especially in South Texas.
Reflecting the president’s commitment to expanding ICE’s immigration detention regime beyond its current historically unprecedented size, the supplemental request asks for $1.15 billion for detention beds and removal operations. The White House Office of Management and Budget, upon which the president’s request is based, explained in a letter to the president that ICE needs at least 45,700 immigration detention beds available nightly to meet the president’s goals. Going back to 2010, Congress has been willing to pay for roughly 34,000 beds per night.
Today’s request also sets the stage for expansions to the controversial 287(g) agreements through which ICE essentially deputizes local law enforcement officers to function as immigration agents. The president asked Congress for $5 million to support expanding the 287(g) program.
Similarly, the president asked for money to lay the groundwork for more Border Patrol and ICE officers. Specifically, he wants Congress to allocate $76 million “to build hiring capacity to recruit and [bring] onboard” 10,000 additional ICE agents. Another $65 million is requested “to recruit and [bring] onboard 5,000 Border Patrol agents.” The president also asked for $88 million to build physical infrastructure, such as dormitory housing, and training capacity to get new Border Patrol and ICE agents in the field.
Because only Congress can pay for the massive increase in immigration policing operations that President Trump’s executive orders envision, all eyes now turn their direction. As we do, it’s worth keeping in mind that today’s request covers the next six months only. The White House is expected to release a budget request for fiscal year 2018 in the coming weeks.