The U.S. House of Representatives could vote this week on a 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill passed last Thursday by the Appropriations Committee that includes expanded spending on immigration enforcement.
This is the first full-year [Department of Homeland Security] spending bill authored by the new Republican leadership in the House. Overall, the bill continues the Republican’s recent tendency to throw money at enforcing our broken immigration laws, increasing budgets for programs that do nothing to address the policy flaws that underlie our broken system. While there has been a lot of talk this year of the need to cut government spending, the reality in this bill is that the House is ready to spend even more money on programs that have proven controversial while doing nothing to reduce the nation’s undocumented immigrant population and our economy’s dependence on workers who now cannot work legally.
According to the National Immigration Forum, through this House Appropriations Act (.pdf), the Customs and Border Protection will receive $8.77 billion—$44 million more than President Obama asked for in his budget, and more than half a billion dollars more than allocated for 2011. The increase would bring the Border Patrol up to 21,370 agents.
The Forum adds that”Secure Communities got $194 million, $10 million more than the President requested.”
Secure Communities is a controversial immigration-enforcement fingerprint-sharing program that allows local law enforcement agencies to use federal databases to determine the immigration status of every detainee. All 67 Florida counties are currently using Secure Communities.
According to the Immigration Forum, “ICE Detention and Removal operations were awarded $2.75 billion, $26.7 million more than the President asked for, to raise the minimum number of detention bed spaces that ICE must maintain on a daily basis from 33,400 bed spaces to 34,000—and the Committee directs ICE “to intensify its enforcement efforts and fully utilize these resources.”
The Detention and Removal Operations unit managed by ICE “prioritizes the apprehension, arrest and removal of convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, fugitives and recent border entrants.”
The Florida Independent reported last week that plans for a new immigration detention facility in South Florida have attracted Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, two of the largest players in the private prison industry, both of which are partnering with different local governments to offer competing proposals.
In President Obama’s 2012 Department of Homeland Security budget proposal, Customs and Border Protection would receive 21 percent of the proposed 2012 Homeland Security budget (a 3 percent increase), ICE 10 percent (a 1 percent increase) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 5 percent (a 5 percent drop).