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Democrats Propose Cutting Funding for ICE, Border Patrol

WASHINGTON – A group of Democratic senators said Congress should reject the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement budget request for FY 2018 and cut the “existing funding levels” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“To minimize damage, we need to reduce funding for President Trump’s deportation force and provide no funds for his costly and unnecessary border wall. President Trump pledged to build a deportation force to indiscriminately deport the nation’s undocumented immigrants,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said on a conference call last week held by America's Voice Education Fund.

“Kelly’s DHS has greatly expanded who is considered a priority for enforcement. In May, ICE reported that arrests of individuals with no criminal history was up by 156 percent compared to the same time last year. This has had an outsized impact on California, which is home to one in four of the nation’s immigrants,” she added.

Harris said Trump’s stricter approach to immigration enforcement has contributed to less crime reporting in some American cities such as Los Angeles and Houston.

“This is without question a public safety issue,” she said. “The administration wants taxpayers to support $2.8 billion in new DHS spending to carry out a misguided and harmful enforcement and border strategy while massive cuts are made to other domestic programs, including critical DHS grant programs that help keep our nation safe.”

Harris disagreed with the administration’s $1.5 billion request to pay for additional beds in immigration detention centers.

“We should reject this proposal and instead produce a budget that provides for our safety, our economy and, equally important, supports our values,” she said.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) argued that more detention beds, a border wall and additional ICE agents are a “waste” of taxpayer dollars.

“It's going to send immigrant communities further into the shadows. I think the American people need to know that by asking taxpayers to pay $362 million more to hire and train more ICE and CBP agents, the administration is not focused on removing violent criminals. Rather, it is going to fund the deportation of parents with criminal records and leave United States citizen children without a mom or dad,” he said.

Menendez said the Trump administration should not deport illegal immigrants who have not committed crimes once inside the United States.

“This isn't about going after convicted criminals, because these people haven't been convicted of any crime even with expanded definitions of what is a crime,” he said. “We’re going to fight this tooth and nail.”

He criticized Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan for a comment he made during a House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee hearing earlier this month.

“Most of the criminal aliens we find in the interior of the United States, they entered as a non-criminal,” Homan said. “If we wait for them to violate yet another law against a citizen of this country, then it’s too late. We shouldn’t wait for them to become a criminal.”