U.S. immigration and border agencies face funding shortfall after public health order ends
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security expects to run out of money for border and immigration operations later this year after the federal government ended a Trump-era policy that bars migrants from seek asylum during a health crisis.
The shutdown of the program, known as Title 42, has divided Democrats, some of whom have called on the Biden administration to put a plan in place before lifting the public health order that allowed border patrol officers to deport over a million people. .
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that DHS, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, has several options for filling the budget shortfall.
This includes reallocating existing funds, asking for additional support from other federal agencies if needed, and asking Congress to provide more money – which would likely be difficult given the intense partisan disagreements. on spending as well as on immigration policy.
“What DHS said last month is that they expect current funding levels will not be sufficient to meet operational needs, but they have a number of options available,” said PSAKI.
The Trump administration began using the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2020 to refuse migrants.
President Joe Biden sued for 42 titles in his first year in office, but the CDC announcement earlier this month, it will expire at the end of May.
The decision led to a flurry of condemnation from Republicans and objection from many centrist Democrats, including those who ran in tough races this fall, who said they were skeptical of a abrupt end to the policy without a comprehensive plan in place.
Several Democratic senators support legislation this would prevent Title 42 from being lifted until at least 60 days after the end of the public health emergency declaration – including Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly from Arizona, Jon Tester from Montana and Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire.
Politics reported On Monday, Democratic Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said he shared the concerns of other party members.
At the time of the announcement, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that its funding levels for the current fiscal year “would not be sufficient to fund the potential resource requirements associated with the current increase in migrant flows”.
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“DHS will fund operational needs by prudently executing its appropriations; redefine priorities and reallocate existing funding through reprogramming and transfers; seek assistance from other federal agencies; and finally, engaging with Congress on any potential need for additional appropriations, if needed,” the department said.
Tensions around the end of Title 42 have caused a bit of a domino effect in Washington, where efforts to pass a $10 billion bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill to the point of death On the question.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said earlier this month that his party would not agree to start a floor debate on the legislation unless Democrats agree to adopt amendments that would deal with Title 42.
So far, Senate Democratic leaders have mostly rejected the offer, in part because several of their members are likely to vote for an amendment.
Some members of the Biden administration have considered delaying the end of Title 42 beyond the current termination date of May 23, according to multiple sources. the news.
National Immigrant Justice Center executive director Mary Meg McCarthy released a statement on Wednesday urging Biden to close Title 42 as planned.
“Our country has an obligation to uphold human rights values and treat people humanely when they seek refuge at our borders,” McCarthy said.
“Title 42 has upended decades of asylum law. The expulsion of nearly 2 million people has created a costly humanitarian disaster. It is high time to end this policy and refocus our values and our resources as a nation to protect the right of asylum.