Biden’s Budget Betrays Immigrants and Border Communities

Defund Hate Campaign Response to President’s 

FY22 Budget Request

Washington, DC (Friday, May 28, 2021) — The Defund Hate campaign and immigrant rights groups who monitor technology surveillance programs expressed frustration after President Biden released a Fiscal Year 2022 budget request of $8.4 billion for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and $16.3 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The president’s budget contradicts his commitments to help communities rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic and pursue government policies that end racial inequities, and instead continues to direct billions of taxpayer dollars toward agencies and private prison corporations which have a nearly 20-year pattern of fiscal mismanagement, separating families, and violating people’s civil and human rights.

Biden’s budget includes funding for ICE to detain more than 30,000 adults in long-term detention centers — a significant increase from the current population and double the 15,000 people who were detained when he took office. The budget also includes funding to hold 2,500 family members in “short-term” ICE processing centers and requests increased funds for interior enforcement programs. While the administration has requested $441 million for alternatives-to-detention programs, it makes no commitment to ensuring those programs follow well-documented best practices of community-based case management programs. 

Alarmingly, the budget encourages “continued expansion” of the 287(g) program despite President Biden’s promise to aggressively limit use of the program and terminate all 287(g) agreements entered into under the Trump administration. These programs turn local law enforcement agencies into a gateway to deportation, co-opt local resources for racially discriminatory purposes, and strip immigrant communities of public safety. In its investigations of these programs, the U.S. Department of Justice has found rampant racial profiling and the use of unlawful police practices in violation of constitutional standards. 

For CBP, the president’s request does not contain more funding for more destructive physical border barriers and proposes the cancellation of unobligated funding from prior year border wall appropriations. But the budget continues high levels of funding for Border Patrol agents, an abusive and unaccountable force that has inflicted fear and violence on border communities and immigrants and contributes to the over-policing of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. 

Additionally, the budget contains significant funding for invasive CBP technologies along with increased funding for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) biometrics collection and ICE procurement of surveillance technologies for interior enforcement. 

Because Congress has the power of the purse, the Defund Hate campaign will continue to work with a growing coalition of senators and representatives who understand the importance of diverting funding from ICE and CBP to programs that help our communities thrive.Yesterday, leaders of the Defund Hate campaign, joined by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA 7th), held a press briefing to outline expectations for President Biden to dramatically divest from ICE and CBP and share alternative visions for how federal funding can and should be better prioritized. 

Members of the Defund Hate campaign and other immigrant rights advocates responded to President Biden’s budget announcement with the following statements:

Heidi Altman, director of policy, National Immigrant Justice Center:

“President Biden must own the policy this budget supports. He must own that ‘level funding’ for ICE and CBP detention and enforcement operations means the continuation of an enforcement-centric approach to immigration that will continue to destabilize families and communities. He must own that funding to detain 32,500 people in ICE jails daily gives the green light for a continued system of mass detention that dehumanizes those behind its walls. He must own that this budget advances neither humanity nor compassion nor justice for immigrant communities. It advances the private prison and surveillance industries. Congress should not oblige.”

Vicki B. Gaubeca, director, Southern Border Communities Coalition:

“While we were pleased to see no additional funding-for border wall construction, the proposed cancellation of border wall funds from prior years, and an investment in the modernization of our ports of entry, we are concerned that President Biden’s budget request includes funding for surveillance technologies, which can inflict harms on the environment, infringe on privacy rights of border communities, and can lead to more deaths as border-crossers take more dangerous routes to avoid detection. 

We urge Congress to rethink borders, and instead divert funding towards resources that would truly revitalize the southern border region, not further militarize it. We need investments into the creation of a humane, rights-respecting welcoming system that processes individuals seeking safety with dignity. Facing the challenges at our southern border will require a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. Resources — including federal funding — are needed, alongside a surge of social workers, trauma specialists, medical professionals and human rights specialists.”

Cynthia Garcia, national campaigns manager for community protection, United We Dream:

“ICE and CBP are fundamentally flawed agencies that have recklessly spent billions of dollars to abuse and remove Black and brown immigrants by any means necessary. Just yesterday morning, Kevin Brown, an immigrant from Jamaica was deported. Kevin had been detained at the Glades County Detention Center for nearly a year, where he was beaten, pepper sprayed, and placed in solitary confinement for almost 30 days in retaliation for speaking out against the abuse and medical neglect he and others faced inside. No one should be subjected to abuse. Yet this is the mistreatment and trauma that the billions of taxpayer dollars President Biden has requested for ICE and CBP will continue to fund. Never has this money resulted in safer, more humane conditions for immigrants like Kevin. Congress must immediately divert billions in enforcement funding to humane, community-supported resources that exist outside of ICE and CBP and help our communities without hurting them.”

Sirine Shebaya, executive director, National Immigration Project: 

“President Biden's budget request breaks his promise to build a more compassionate and humane immigration system. The proposed levels of funding for ICE and CBP detention and enforcement operations will result in nothing more than a continuation of Trump era practices. Year after year, we have seen that increased budgets for ICE and CBP—two agencies that are plagued with system-wide abuses—only lead to increased harm for our communities. We are especially concerned about the unacceptable levels of funding for detention, as well as for the Criminal Alien Program and surveillance systems such as HART. Congress must ensure these funds do not reach the pockets of ICE and CBP and are instead put towards community-based programs and resources that help our communities live freely and thrive.”

Ashik Siddique, research analyst, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies:

“Amid all the ongoing crises our society faces, it's unconscionable not just to extend the Trump administration's spending spree on militarization, but to add to it. It’s clearer than ever that this country's priorities are dangerously out of whack. We cannot accept the new normal of a three-quarters-of-a-trillion dollar Pentagon budget, and ongoing support for such high levels of militarized immigration enforcement and domestic surveillance in the Department of Homeland Security. A lasting economic recovery means shifting government resources away from what causes harm, and reinvesting that money in what can really keep our communities safe.”

Julie Mao, deputy director, Just Futures:

“We condemn the Biden Administration’s request for potentially $1 billion in CBP and DHS surveillance technologies. This money would represent a windfall for military tech corporations at the expense of border communities and migrants who are already subjected to heavy surveillance and criminalization. Increased border surveillance and technology is not a “humane” solution to a physical wall. Surveillance increases migrant deaths, harms the environment and wildlife, and threatens the civil rights of U.S. residents, migrants, and indigenous communities along the Southern and Northern borders and far into the interior.”

Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign organizer, Mijente:

“This “smart” border surveillance technology is a continuation of the Trump administration’s racist border policies, not a break from it. For too long, immigrant and border communities have been treated as test subjects for military-grade surveillance. The harms of border technology go far into the interior and disproportionately impact Black, indigenous, and people of color communities, as demonstrated by CBP drones deployed on Black Lives Matter protesters last summer. Rather than dropping potentially $1 billion in CBP and DHS surveillance technology, the Biden Administration should invest in border communities and restore areas harmed by wall construction.”

Jennifer Piper, interfaith organizing director, American Friends Service Committee’s Colorado Immigrant Rights program:

“Biden’s budget continues Trump’s harmful trend of dedicating massive amounts of funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – including over $8.3 billion for ICE and over $16.2 billion for CBP. This is a heartless mandate to these agencies to continue separating families, abusing and neglecting people in unsanitary jails and detention centers, and allowing hundreds to die in their custody. We call on the Biden Administration to defund ICE and CBP and invest in restoring community-based supports for asylum seekers, addressing the root causes of migration with direct support to local and sustainable efforts, and providing resources that make our whole communities here at home healthier and stronger.”


The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Instead, we want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.


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