Government funding bill sent to President BidenJoe BidenBiden expected to call for end of normal trade relations with Russia Senate avoids shutdown, spends 0.6 billion in Ukraine and GOP senators urge Biden to accelerate the transfer of air power and air defense systems to the MORE late Thursday night modestly raises funds for the Department of Homeland Security while seeking to impose limits on agencies that manage US immigration policy.
The roughly $182 billion bill does not cancel $2 billion in funding for the border wall — a messaging victory for Republicans even though the Biden administration has refused to build the wall. It’s a detail that has irked progressives with funding legislation for significant detention capacity within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The bill includes some Democratic priorities, maintaining reporting requirements on various immigration agencies and ensuring lawmakers access to detention centers. It also includes funding to address large backlogs that have accumulated during the pandemic.
It undermines the Biden administration as it seeks to bolster border courtroom facilities after it was forced by a court order to reimplement the Trump-era Stay in Mexico policy. The Appropriations Committee talking points state that it will not allow funding to “support the illegal and inhumane agenda.”
The legislation also codifies a July memo issued this summer that prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant women in custody except in extraordinary circumstances.
But in many ways the bill is seen as a compromise, with Democrats unable to get Republicans to drop priorities like the former President TrumpDonald TrumpFears grow over Russian chemical threat to Ukraine Defense and national security overnight – Senators question Biden officials on Ukraine Jussie Smollett gets 150 days in jail after faking hate crime against himself MORE‘s partially constructed wall.
“It’s going to continue to be what it is now, isn’t it?” It is an unspent balance and it will continue to be an unspent balance,” the senator said. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers Reach 0.5T Deal on Government Funding Package Russian Oil Ban Politics Fuels Democrat Anxiety (D-Conn.) told The Hill.
“Biden has been clear that he is not building a new border wall. So, you know, I think some of that money will probably be used to secure some of the projects that have been put on hold… some of the projects have been literally shut down [with a] protruding beam, with holes in the sides of the mountain.”
“This budget doesn’t, doesn’t do all the things I want to get away from the Trump years, but it’s clearly a pivot from an inhumane policy to a much more humane policy,” he added.
Sen. Shelley MooreCapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoLionel Richie Receives Library of Congress Gershwin Prize (RW.V.) said the funding would be used for “the wall or gates, other security measures, roads, physical access, wall repairs, all of the above.”
“Well, we just said, you know, it was the will of Congress. And that’s an area where we fought hard to keep the money from being canceled. So, you know, it’s all about compromise,” she said.
Immigration restrictionists celebrated that the bill included funding increases for ICE and CBP, but feared the Biden administration would use those funds to implement the tough-style enforcement measures. Trump they favor.
“The bad news is that there is no mechanism in the spending package that will compel the Biden administration to spend the money as planned,” said Dan Stein, president of the American Federation for Reform. Immigration (FAIR).
The bill does not include the Afghan Adjustment Act, a measure that many had hoped to add to the omnibus to ensure a pathway to citizenship for the more than 70,000 Afghan evacuees brought to the United States and who remain here under a precarious temporary status.
It also does not include funding for any additional immigration enforcement personnel. It includes $458 million for various alternatives to detention programs, but also provides funding for some 34,000 ICE beds — far more than the 22,000 currently in use.
“The budget gives ICE money to fund more than 5,000 more beds than is proposed in funding bills introduced in the House and Senate last year. These funding levels directly contradict commitments made by the Biden administration and members of Congress to scale back the immigration detention system,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center in a statement.
The legislation also excludes provisions previously included in previous funding bills, including a visa clawback provision that would have clawed back otherwise expired green cards, allowing them to be applied to the long backlog of those waiting to come to the United States.
“Congress has had a great opportunity to implement some very significant and progressive changes to the immigration system this year that are just wasted on this bill,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director of the American Immigration Council, at The Hill.
“Congress had the opportunity to create a new pilot program to provide attorneys to people navigating our very complicated immigration system. But again, I chose to remove that language,” Loweree said, pointing to an earlier bill that would have given the Justice Department $50 million to provide legal services in an immigration court system that does not provide legal aid.
Democrats were quick to defend the overall budget as consistent with their priorities.
The Chairman of the Senate Immigration Judiciary Subcommittee, Senator Alex PadilleAlex PadillaSenate Democrats call on Biden administrator to end Trump-era immigration rule DHS grants temporary immigration status to all Ukrainians in the United States. (D-Calif.) pushed back against the idea that any increase in DHS funding would run counter to Democrats’ campaign immigration promises.
“It’s not just the funding, it’s the policy changes that we’re still working on with regards to modernizing the immigration system. I’m encouraged by the significant funding for the humanitarian assistance that we need” , did he declare.
But Padilla acknowledged the political realities of a must-have bill when asked about funding for the wall before the bill passed the Senate.
“It’s a 50-50 Senate and we need to get it through,” he said in a statement.
representing Lucille Roybal AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHispanic Democrats roll out trio of House endorsements Bass raises nearly millions since campaign launch Los Angeles Mayor Clyburn says he fears losing the House, ‘losing this democracy’ MORE (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the subcommittee overseeing the DHS bill, said she sees significant wins for “how we treat immigrants seeking a better life.” .
“I also fought to provide more funding to [U.S. Customs and Border Protections’] (CBP) body-worn camera program, establish an ICE body-worn camera initiative, and increase funding for the ICE and CBP Offices of Professional Responsibility, Office of Civil Rights and Liberties DHS and the Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman to help ensure federal agency accountability for migrants in DHS custody. The bill also provides authority to reorganize the DHS Chief Medical Officer and increases funding for child protection and electronic health records professionals so that DHS can better respond to the needs of migrants arriving at our border,” she said.