On October 20th, the Biden Administration submitted a supplemental funding request letter to the House of Representatives, seeking an additional $13.6 billion for more border spending. The Administration requested that $8.7 billion of this funding be directed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS budget for 2024 has already exceeded $103 billion prior to this supplemental request.
These requests show the Administration’s intent to continue to increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and expand deportation systems. Here is what you need to know:
Increase Detention Capacity
The Funding Request: Provides an additional $2.54 billion to ICE. These funds will increase the number of detention beds available for ICE to jail migrants. DHS’s fact sheet states that these funds will sustain their increased use of expedited removal and points to their use of detention as a punishment for migrants who do not enter using a lawful pathway after the end of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that operated from March 2020 to May 2023 that expelled migrants who crossed the border and denied their right to seek asylum.
These funds will also be used to expand the ‘Alternatives to Detention’ program to bolster the Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) program. The FERM Program was launched by the Biden Administration in May of this year. Under this program, families apprehended at the border are rushed through the credible fear process and asylum claims while under surveillance.
The Problem: Since the spring of 2021, the Biden Administration has ramped up the use of ICE detention. Currently, there are approximately 35,000 non-citizens jailed facing deportation charges.
Jailing immigrants seeking safety and refuge in the United States is unjust and inhumane, a cruelty that is compounded by the fact that there is no right to government-appointed counsel.
Migrants do not need to be detained in order to continue their removal proceedings. The data is clear: 83% of those in removal proceedings in immigration court attended all hearings when non-detained. And 15% of those ordered removed in absentia (between 2008-2018) had their removal orders rescinded, suggesting an intent to complete the proceedings and likely missed court due to lack of notice.
The Administration’s FERM program rushes families seeking asylum through court proceedings without the meaningful opportunity to access counsel while placing participants under ICE surveillance such as ankle monitors and other electronic methods.
Increase Militarization of Border
The Funding Request: Provide an additional $4.46 billion dollars to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The funds will be used to hire an additional 1,000 CBP Officers plus an additional 1,300 Border Patrol Agents and 300 Border Patrol Processing Coordinators.
The Problem: Militarizing the border leads to harm and obstructs access to humanitarian protections. Funding additional law enforcement to surveil and police migrants seeking humanitarian protections is a continuation of policies that over-criminalize communities of color.
The Funding Request: Additional funds to increase the number of deportation flights, including resources for other countries to conduct their own flights and reduce the flow of migrants.
The Problem: The Biden Administration continues to deport migrants to unstable and dangerous conditions. For example, there have been a reported 288 ICE flights to Haiti, deporting an estimated 27,000 people. This past week, ICE deported an additional 38 Haitians despite the U.S. Embassy’s August 30th advisory that all U.S. Citizens leave Haiti as soon as possible.
We urge the Biden Administration to divert funding from detention, militarization of the border, and deportations. Instead, fund legal representation programs by passing the Fairness to Freedom Act so that those seeking humanitarian protection have a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves.