House Appropriations Committee Passes Vastly Improved DHS Funding Bill

By RJ Hauman

Over the past two years, we have all witnessed the devastating harm wrought by the Biden Administration’s relentless effort to keep our borders open while dismantling interior immigration enforcement.

While the Republican-controlled House answered by passing a strong border security and enforcement bill last month (H.R. 2), the chances of it passing in the Senate are slim to none. However, the appropriations process – passage of bills that fund federal agencies – is an arena in which victories are possible to obtain.

On this front, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee took a bold first step yesterday, passing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that not only seeks to ramp up actual border security, but also the detention and removal of illegal aliens. Naturally, every anti-enforcement Democrat on the committee opposed.

While not perfect, the bill provides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with $9.809 billion, which is $1.390 billion above FY23 and $1.477 billion above the Biden Administration’s request. It provides $3.550 billion for Custody Operations, including an increase of $1.235 billion above what was requested to detain an average daily population of 41,500, which is an increase of 7,500 above the FY23 level and 16,500 above the requested level. While the National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE) wanted the bed total to be higher, as well as an increase in ICE agents and other items, it is still a critical funding increase to deter skyrocketing levels of illicit migration and to support additional interior enforcement actions for all removable aliens. The bill also contains $654.8 million for Transportation and Removal Operations, including $225 million above the request to support additional transportation for increased detention and removals, which have dramatically decreased under the Biden Administration.

This all sounds great, and for the most part, it is. But the Biden Administration remains committed to defying Congressional intent and spending taxpayer dollars improperly or not all. That is why it is essential for lawmakers to be aggressive with their oversight, and in fine print policy riders – which are often attached to appropriations bills. Fortunately, that is exactly what Republicans did yesterday to strengthen the bill.

Here are some important highlights of additions that were supported by NICE:

  • Prohibits reducing participation in or substantively diminishing the 287(g) program, which allows state and local law enforcement to assist ICE in enforcing immigration law. 
  • Prioritizes funding for detention beds and ensures that all illegal aliens on the non-detained docket are monitored with mandatory GPS tracking throughout the duration of their entire immigration proceedings – including appeals.
  • Prohibits any Biden-era prosecutorial discretion policies for enforcement actions.
  • Prohibits transportation of illegal aliens into the interior of the United States for purposes other than enforcement.
  • Defunds ICE’s Young Adult Case Management Program (YACMP) – essentially social services for illegal aliens – and moves those funds to an increase in detention beds.

These are vast improvements to the strong bill that passed the subcommittee, and their inclusion is encouraging. All eyes are now on the entire Republican conference. It is time to get this appropriations bill across the finish line, or even make it even stronger.

The fact is, a well-intentioned bill like H.R. 2 is simply not enough to address the worst border crisis in American history that is being compounded by the gutting of interior enforcement. When you control the purse strings, be aggressive. This is a great first step.

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