During today’s markup of the FY09 Department of Homeland Security spending bill (no bill number yet), the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut and remove funding for proven enforcement measures such as the 287(g) program, which enables local police and sheriffs to enforce immigration laws, and workplace enforcement activities. The measure will, among other things, require ICE to spend $800 million to identify and deport illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes. Since the bill provides ICE only $60 million over its $4.8 billion budget request, the money aimed at identifying and deporting serious criminals will have to be shifted from other priorities. During the debate, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) offered an amendment to restore the 287(g) funding to the bill. That amendment was defeated along party lines. The bill next heads to the House floor for consideration This partisan play by the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee is a terrible blow to immigration enforcement across the country. State and local police are badly needed to help overwhelmed federal immigration authorities apprehend and detain illegal aliens in the interior of our country. Illegal aliens currently outnumber federal immigration agents by 5,000 to one, and only 2,000 federal agents are actively enforcing immigration laws in the interior of our country. Clearly, those numbers indicate that a limited number of federal agents are incapable of confronting the estimated 12-20 million illegal aliens currently inside our nation's borders and would benefit from the assistance of the more than 600,000 state and local law enforcement officers nationwide who come into contact with illegal aliens every day. Today’s vote also undermines a significant number of state and local governments that have already signed on to the 287(g) program. As of April 28, 2008, 47 state and local law-enforcement agencies have completed agreements with ICE and about 90 others have submitted applications. Most agreements were signed in the last two years. To date, ICE has trained nearly 700 officers who, in turn, have identified over 50,000 individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. If today’s committee actions are not overturned when the bill is taken up by the full House, the DHS spending bill may fare better in the Senate, where Senators have retained funding for 287(g) and other enforcement activities in their version of the bill (S. 3181).
Updated: Wed, Jul 5th 2017 @ 2:08pm EDT