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Immigration in the Omnibus: No Wall Funding, but Gains for Trump

On May 5, President Donald Trump signed into law the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ). The omnibus bill was passed nearly two months after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an appropriations request for FY2017 and a budget blueprint for the president’s FY2018 budget. While the president notably did not receive funding to begin planning and constructing a border wall or to significantly increase the size of the Border Patrol or the number of ICE officers, the omnibus appropriations bill did include increases in funding for some of the president’s other immigration-related priorities.

Below is a summary comparison of the major immigration-related budget provisions in the President’s request for FY2017 and what Congress provided in the omnibus appropriations bill. More detailed explanations of some of the provisions mentioned in this blog and in the President’s budget documents can be found here.

Border Wall

  • President’s request: The president asked for $1.7 billion in FY2017 to begin construction of a border wall, including $999 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to begin planning, designing, and building. The president also asked for $179 million to construct roads and other tactical infrastructure along the border and $200 million in border security technology investments.
  • Omnibus bill: Congress did not give the president the $1.7 billion to construct a border wall, but increased CBP’s overall budget by $772 million, including adding $100 million for roads and tactical infrastructure (out of $179 million requested), $100 million for technology (out of $200 million), and $341 million to replace or convert existing physical barriers at the border.

DHS Hiring

  • President’s request: Trump requested $65 million to beef up CBP’s ability to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, along with $76 million to begin the hiring of 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, both promises made in his earliest executive orders. The president also asked for $95 million to support border surge operations.
  • Omnibus bill: The President’s request for additional Border Patrol hiring was not funded by Congress. Rather, they appropriated $65 million for hiring and retention of previously authorized border agents. Funding for 100 new ICE officers was allocated, and $48 million was allocated to address border surge costs.

Detention Beds

  • President’s request: Currently, the government is required to fill at least 34,000 beds across all immigration detention centers each night. Congress has continued this mandate over many years, despite objections raised by the Obama administration. Trump sought $1.2 billion to expand the mandate to 45,700 beds by the end of FY2017.
  • Omnibus bill: Congress approved $526 million for additional beds, raising the number available to 39,324. Congress also approved $33 million for additional transportation and removal costs, as well as $57 million for alternatives to detention.

State and Local Immigration Enforcement

  • President’s request: Trump’s executive orders on immigration sought to expand the role of state and localities in enforcing immigration laws. Primarily, the executive orders looked to expand 287(g) agreements, which allow the federal government to essentially deputize state and local enforcement officials as immigration agents. The FY2017 request asked for $5 million to support the expansion of the 287(g) program.
  • Omnibus bill: The omnibus appropriations bill allocates $312 million for the Criminal Alien Program operations, which includes support for the 287(g) program. This overall support for the Criminal Alien Program represents a decrease from last year’s funding level, $317 million, including $5.4 million to facilitate 287(g) agreements. Because ICE is actively planning to expand 287(g) this year, the appropriations language did not include specific funding level regarding the program, and requested that ICE brief the committee on the proposed expansion within 90 days of the bill’s passage.

 Immigration courts

  • President’s Request: The president’s FY2017 request did not ask for additional immigration court funding. However, the FY2018 budget blueprint called for the hiring of 75 new judge teams. The new resources would aim to speed up case processing in immigration courts, where the backlog has surpassed 542,000 cases, with an average wait time of 677 days.
  • Omnibus bill: The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) budget has been increased by $20 million to $440 million for FY2017, which allows for the creation of 10 additional immigration judge teams this fiscal year.

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)

  • President’s Request: The president’s budget request would have eliminated SCAAP, which reimburses local and state governments for a portion of the cost of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants.
  • Omnibus Bill: SCAAP was appropriated $210,000,000 by Congress.
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