In the News March 19
Activists Denounce Increased Funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The massive $1.5 trillion budget passed by Congress greatly increased funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), notorious for its brutality and actions which separate families and impose unjust deportations and detentions. The budget bill increases overall ICE funding to $284.7 million including a $57 million increase for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The chauvinism of the U.S. is evident as it sends $13.6 billion to Ukraine that includes funding to assist refugees, while in the U.S. funds are increased to deport and detain them. The use of Title 42, for example, immediately sends people back in the name of COVID. This is done arbitrarily, without testing or assessing the specific conditions of each refugee, as required by law.
The budget funding provides for keeping the number of detention beds at high levels, guaranteeing funds to the private prisons which operate the detention facilities. These have repeatedly been found to violate human rights, including those of children and families — so much so that mothers have held hunger strikes to defend their rights.
As one advocate put it: “Given the continuing abuses in many immigration detention facilities, the administration needs to reduce funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” She added, “It is unacceptable that this bill keeps the number of detention beds at Trump administration levels” of about 34,000.
The youth-led United We Dream (UWD) denounced the funding and the undemocratic way in which budget bills are passed, a reflection of the dysfunction of Congress. The final version of the more than 2,700-page bill was presented to Congress March 9, the same day the House voted on it, followed by the Senate vote March 10.
UWD said, “All along this federal funding bill has been kept secret, negotiated in backroom deals and left out of sight from the public and the majority of lawmakers. This was no mistake. It was Congress’ blatant attempt to conceal and quickly pass a bill that continues funding the violence of immigration enforcement at obscene levels, all while hoping to evade public scrutiny and backlash.”
They continued, “Behind each dollar spent for immigration enforcement are millions of lives, families and loved ones — many of whom are Black and Brown — who are brutalized, beaten and even killed at the hands of ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Patrol].”
“It is appalling and unacceptable that Congress would even consider continuing to fund these abuses, yet that’s precisely what they’re doing,” UWD added.
(Workers’ Forum, posted March 19, 2022)