Congress Goes to Recess with No Action on Immigration

Written by on April 10, 2017 in Enforcement with 2 Comments

President Trump’s campaign promise to ramp up immigration enforcement and build a beautiful wall along the southern border have found little support on Capitol Hill. As Congress leaves for spring recess it’s unclear which of the president’s immigration promises they are willing to help him fulfill.

Permanent changes to immigration policy have always been up to Congress. However, even administrative changes like the executive actions the president issued in January require additional funding from congress.

For example, one of President-elect Trump’s signature campaign talking points was to build a wall along the United States southern border with Mexico. The president has attempted to make good on that promise by asking Congress for supplemental funds for this current year (FY 2017) which ends on September 30. The supplemental funding request would add around $3 billion to the over $40 billion the Department of Homeland Security is set to receive this fiscal year to begin building the border wall, expand the number of detentions beds, and hire 5,000 additional Customs and Border Protection agents and 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Democrats and Republicans have balked at this funding request.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX.) told Politico, “What I would like to see is a plan for how the money would be spent and a good faith discussion about what border security is really composed of. We haven’t had that.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) went further calling the wall a “poison pill.”

The President also released a so-called “skinny budget” for FY 2018 which starts on October 1 of this year. This document is a preview of what the President is going to formally ask Congress for in May when he submits his budget request. For DHS, the Administration request includes $2.6 billion for the border wall and $1.5 billion above what is normally asked for to fund immigration detention. However, once again this request has been met with skepticism in Congress, with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) calling the budget, “dead on arrival.”

While the House and Senate have not acted, Committees in both chambers have held a variety of hearings on the President’s executive orders and their implementation, covering immigration enforcement, border security, the travel ban, and the need for additional CBP and ICE personnel. However, none of these committees have passed or even taken up legislation on these issues.

President Trump’s proposed policies depend on Congressional willingness to fund them. So far, they are showing little interest in playing along.

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  • James Leonard Park

    Yes, let us remember that the USA has no king.
    We have three branches of government,
    each with its own powers and responsibilities.
    The President can propose certain policies,
    but when anything new costs considerable money,
    then the Congress must appropriate such funds.

    Not yet discussed is the cost of deportation:
    It it costs at least $10,000 to deport each
    unauthorized foreign national,
    then deporting one million citizens of other countries
    would cost $10 billion.

  • Caron D. Stevens

    I was surprised that the Trump administration decided to enforce immigration laws. Apparently for decades, illegal immigration provided lower cost labor than can be obtained from American citizens. That was the financial benefit to our economy. In the meantime people have established deep roots in a country without the legal status. Now the goal has to be to give them legal status without the fear of deportation.

    That is accomplished through legislation. Yes immigrants have made great contributions to America in terms of culture and many wonderful ways. Good news . . . is America cares about immigrants. Bottom line is everything is financial and I believe if every person immigrating into the United States could sustain themselves financially and independent of financial aid, no one would get deported. Give everyone a chance to become a citizen under the immigration laws. I still believe support should be extended to asylum seekers.

    The problem is the Trump administration’s economic standpoint on slashing costs in the budget and balancing the budget, starting with slashing the costs associated with assimilation of immigrants into the American society; detention; processing through the legal system; any public services; incarceration and deportation. The past is the past and going forward, legislators need proposed changes in the laws with resolution for revised immigration laws that benefit immigrants in a humanitarian way.