The Senate Supplemental Hurts More Than It Helps

Washington, DC — In response to the $4.6 billion Emergency Border Supplemental that passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Defund Hate coalition released the following statement:

“We understand that vital services for refugees and unaccompanied children by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are being stripped away because of tight budgets. However, Members of Congress must prohibit the White House from manipulating these very real needs in order to transfer billions of dollars for the massive expansion of its deportation agenda, including the already-harmful system of incarceration for asylum seeking families and children. Far from addressing the current humanitarian needs at the border, this supplemental will give the White House the funds and discretion it seeks to continue implementing border and interior enforcement policies that are resulting in deaths and human rights abuses.

We also want to flag that some of the components of the bill which seem at first glance to meet key goals are weak or undermined elsewhere. For example, the bill’s prohibition on the transfer of funds is later undermined when it grants the DHS Secretary unfettered authority to deploy personnel or resources from any DHS component toward immigration enforcement, detention, and investigations. Other bad provisions include:

  • Family and child immigration jails through military spending: The bill provides $144.85 million to the Department of Defense that will go toward building and operating jails (most likely tent camps) for immigrant families and unaccompanied children on army and air force bases despite whistleblowers’ repeated warnings that such facilities cause children and families grave harms.
  • Millions more for ICE: The bill provides $209 million for ICE, including $70 million for personnel costs without any restriction on use and $21 million for funding for Homeland  Security Investigations despite evidence that such funds are likely to be used to disrupt family reunification processes.
  • Anemic restrictions on HHS funding, allowing more Tornillo- and Homestead-style children jails: The bill provides more than $2 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for expanding the supply of shelters for unaccompanied children, but with only anemic protections, such that ORR maintains authority to operate so-called “influx facilities” that are not state licensed and not compliant with the protections provided in the Flores settlement for periods of up to 14 months.
  • Largely unrestricted funds for CBP: The bill provides more than a billion dollars for CBP, including more than $110 million for personnel, and $708 million for CBP detention. Language does not prohibit CBP from moving ahead with plans to have Border Patrol agents conduct asylum screening interviews (credible fear interviews). The bill requires minimal standards be put in place prior to release of funds.
  • More jailing of immigrants for the act of migration: The bill provides $155 million for U.S. Marshals, which is likely to go toward needlessly jailing immigrants facing prosecution for migration-related offenses.

We want to note that the bill does include important positive components. For example, it provides $10 million in funding that would nearly double the Legal Orientation Program for un-represented immigrants facing deportation proceedings from detention. It also provides $30 million in grants administered through FEMA for localities and organizations providing humanitarian assistance to recently-arrived migrants. And it provides $108 million on critical funding for case management, post-release services, child advocates and legal services for unaccompanied children. Unfortunately, these positive provisions cannot overcome the scope of the harms listed above.”

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. 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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Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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