1. Press Release
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Administration Raids Funds for Disaster Relief to Keep More Children and Families Behind Bars

August 28, 2019

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) fiercely opposes the move of the Department of Homeland Security to reallocate essential funding to bolster harmful and unnecessary border detention of refugees and other immigrants by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

To support ICE’s overspending, the Trump administration will reallocate money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), United States Coast Guard, Federal Air Marshal Service, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Contact: Kristen Y. Archer, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-812-2223

“ICE’s overspending and lack of accountability is not solving the humanitarian crisis in our southern border, Instead, it is fueling the ongoing detention and punishment of refugees seeking safety,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s executive secretary. “Rather than pour more money to fund the punitive machinery that drives our response to immigration, Congress should craft real, humane solutions.”

Last summer, the DHS also reallocated money from FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to keep more parents, children, and refugees behind bars right before hurricane season. Congress responded to this overspending by passing a bill that required ICE to reduce the number of beds in detention centers to just over 40,000 by the end of September. Instead, ICE detained a record 55,220 people this month.

In response to unchecked ICE spending, the Trump administration has instead transferred more money from critical national disaster response programs to detain more immigrants. This summer, ICE conducted the largest worksite raids in more than a decade and issued a rule that allows for prolonged detention of children with their families.

“The families, children, refugees and members of communities that ICE has detained need not be there because we have tested, community-based alternatives to detention,” said Hannah Graf Evans, who leads immigration and refugee policy at FCNL. “As Congress makes its final 2020 spending decisions, we urge lawmakers to impose restrictions on detention spending and border wall construction.”

As a Quaker organization, FCNL advocates for a good immigration enforcement system that includes alternatives to detention. It urges Congress to fund a compassionate immigration system that shifts the U.S. away from endless detention and deportation.