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Senate Appropriations Bill and Immigration

In November, the Senate published its proposed budget for FY2018 Department of Homeland Security funding. Some $53 billion is doled out over 12 major components and agencies that make up one of the largest departments in the U.S. government. While the bill is still pending and will be amended, it captures the mood of the Senate Republicans who supported the effort.

The bill proposes the largest-ever single capital investment for securing U.S. borders. CBP’s $13 billion includes granting the requested funding for physical barriers on the border, as well as more Border Patrol agents, border security technology, mobile surveillance, tunnel threat identification aircraft repair, satellite technology, and improvements to Brown Field Border Patrol Station in San Diego. CBP funding is an enormous element of the DHS budget, and over $1.5 billion has been dedicated to physical impediments, which could include “a wall” on the borders.

Meanwhile, the ICE budget is about $6.5 billion, split between Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement & Removal Operations. Despite much more interior activity since the new year, ICE is actually taking about a 20 percent budget cut. The bill appropriates $10 million to improve visa overstay tracking. USCIS gets a slight increase in funding, proposed at $130 million. Of that, $22 million is set aside to improve the E-Verify system.

A troubling aspect of the appropriations bill is that it cuts funding by 27 percent for the Office of the Inspector General, which provides oversight for DHS. Unfortunately, certain elements of ICE and CBP routinely get tangled up in accusations of abuse and mistreatment in bungled raids and detentions, and oversight of those component agencies in particular is sorely needed.