1. Legislative Ask
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Rein in Spending to Stop Immigrant Deaths and Abuse

By Hannah Graf Evans, February 10, 2020


In just three years, the annual budget for immigration detention has grown by more than half. Border communities have had land stolen for border wall construction, and their neighborhoods have been further militarized. The administration has used an inflated enforcement budget to separate families, jail children, and illegally deny entry to asylum seekers.

Even with historically high budgets appropriated by Congress, the administration has also unilaterally expanded the deportation budget by billions more dollars at the direct expense of disaster relief, homeland security priorities, and investments for service members and their families.

Congress needs to insist the U.S. abandon this failed approach and enact guardrails to hold the administration accountable to protecting human life. As members of Congress develop the fiscal year 2021 (FY21) spending bills, it is imperative that they ensure that U.S. tax dollars stop fueling cruel and ineffective immigration policies. Congress’ spending bills must instead:

In FY21, Congress must limit the President’s ability to transfer funds and end inhumane deportation, detention, and border militarization practices and expansion.

  • End unaccountable detention, deportation, and border militarization expansion. Spending billions of dollars annually on enforcement tears families apart, fuels environmental damage, and leaves vulnerable children and individuals unprotected.

  • Invest in non-restrictive, community-based alternatives to detention. Strengthen access to asylum, rather than locking more people up and out. Congress should defund policies like the misleadingly-named Migrant Protection Protocols and instead invest in robust case management programs that support individuals pursuing asylum without jailing them.

  • End overspending on detention and walls by prohibiting inappropriate transfers. The administration consistently overspends beyond what Congress allocates. Congress should cancel the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to transfer money from other agencies into detention and enforcement programs. It should prohibit the administration from using unrelated accounts for unauthorized border wall construction.

Values Driven Immigration Policy

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) is led by the call to welcome the stranger and seeks congressional immigration reforms that recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of immigrants to ensure equity and justice for all.

Our nation’s immigration policies should:

  • Keep families together
  • Bring accountability and community engagement to border policies
  • Create a path to lawful status and citizenship
  • Protect all workers, regardless of immigration status
  • Align immigration enforcement with humanitarian values
  • Preserve the human and civil rights of all immigrants
  • End mass incarceration of immigrants
  • Uphold international and U.S. law obligations to protect refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of human trafficking

Hannah Graf Evans

  • Former Legislative Representative, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Hannah Graf Evans led FCNL's lobbying for compassionate immigration and refugee policies, with a particular focus on detention practices, the rights of border communities, and protection of vulnerable communities. Hannah served as co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition steering committee for three years.