Washington, DC – For weeks, hundreds of thousands of people across the country have gathered petitions, protested in the streets, and confronted members of Congress to oppose Trump’s funding request to bankroll his wholesale attack on immigrants. Over the weekend, Congress reached a preliminary deal which would fund the government through the end of September, pending a vote that could come anytime within the week.
“The funding deal proves two main things,” said Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network. “It shows the power of our voices when we emphatically reject Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and it shows that the fight against funding that agenda is just getting started – especially with respect to the expansion of the inhumane and unjust detention system.”
Major takeaways from the deal include:
- An end to the arbitrary detention bed quota – a costly and unprecedented policy that required the incarceration of 34,000 immigrants in detention at any given time.
- Funding for an average of 39,324 detention beds for FY17. Since more than 40,000 people have been detained per day for the first seven months of this fiscal year, ICE will have to decrease the number of people detained for the remainder of the year. However, comparing it to previous years, this bill funds a massive 5,000 bed increase to an already-bloated and unnecessary detention system.
- No money for construction of a new concrete border wall – however, the deal does contain $772 million for an increase in border militarization and surveillance with money allocated for “border technology.”
- No increase in the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents.
“The detention bed quota fed the big business of immigration detention, creating a foundation for perverse financial incentives to grow the system that we see today,” said Shah. “However, with the elimination of the detention bed quota, comes the harsh reality that detention levels have soared past 34,000 over the last seven months to an unprecedented high of 42,000 people per day. “
Although funding for a concrete wall wasn’t included in the deal, it was a smoke and mirrors move that will still result in the continued degradation of border communities. “The proposed funds for the wall were diverted from a physical structure to a dangerous force field of surveillance and increased militarization,” said Shah.
As the vote nears and the stage is set for a major fight over funding in the 2018 budget, Congress must prove to their constituents their sincerity in fighting Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. “The courts aren’t the only way to block Trump’s racist policies,” Shah added. “There is a growing number of people demanding their tax dollars be spent on policies reflective of democratic values, rather than funding an anti-immigrant agenda. Congress cannot be complicit in adding fuel to the detention and deportation machine – lives are at stake and history will not be forgiving.”
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.