1. Update
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

The President’s Vision for Immigration Spending Is a Moral Nonstarter

By Gabriela Viera, March 14, 2019


President Donald Trump’s budget request outlines a daunting increase in in spending that will result in more immigrants languishing in unjust detention and harmful border policies. Congress should reject this proposal and invest in programs that make our communities strong and vibrant.

President Trump’s budget request for 2020 includes $27 billion for immigration enforcement, an almost 20 percent increase from this year’s spending levels.

FCNL advocates have urged Congress to reduce funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization. We call on Congress to reject this vision for our nation. Our tax dollars should be invested in protection, not deportation.

What is in the request?

Rapid Detention Growth

Immigration detention continues to expand into a sprawling network of incarceration facilities with a record of systemic abuse.

Detention takes a physical and psychological toll on all migrants forced into it, including the extremely vulnerable and family members of those incarcerated.

President Trump requested:

  • $2.7 billion to massively expanding the immigration detention system to detail 54,000 people per day (up from 45,000 in 2019)

  • A 300 percent increase in family detention

Wall Construction and Border Militarization

Barrier construction and surveillance technology along our border forces vulnerable migrants into deeply dangerous - often fatal - routes and disrupts the safety of border communities.

President Trump requested:

  • $8.6 billion to build 200 miles of border wall along the U.S. Southwest border

  • $367 million for border patrol surveillance technology and equipment, further militarizing border communities

  • Funding to place 120,000 people per day under electronic or other surveillance-monitoring programs rather than enrolling them in community-based alternatives to detention (up from 100,000 in 2019)

Deportation Agents

Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have become notorious for corruption and their lack of accountability. ICE has been habitually and recklessly overspending what Congress allocates to expand detention and carry out deportations.

Amid rapid expansion, CBP agents operate with impunity in border regions. Each traumatizes vulnerable migrant populations that should be protected, not locked out or up.

President Trump requested:

  • More than half a billion dollars to hire and support 750 additional Border Patrol agents, 171 CBP officers and 1,000 additional ICE agents

Take Action

This budget request seeks to enhance the cruelties of the U.S. immigration system - but Congress has ultimate spending authority. Now as Congress enters their own budget negotiations, you have the chance to tell your legislators to live up to our shared values. Congress should scale back funds for endless immigration and focus on reforming our immigration laws to protect the dignity of all.

Gabriela Viera

  • Program Assistant, Immigration & Refugee Policy

Gabriela Viera served as the Program Assistant for Immigration and Refugee Policy for 2018-2019.