DHS Sec. Mayorkas and Members of Congress Confronted in the Halls of Congress Calling for a Ceasefire and to Reject Biden’s Supplemental Funding Request

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Washington, DC – Today, following a Senate Appropriations Hearing, activists and immigration attorneys, including Muslims for Just Futures, Pangea Legal Services, and Project ANAR confronted Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over President Biden’s $105 billion supplemental funding request, including $8.7 billion in additional funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), doubling down on a policy of hyper militarization and incarceration.

Watch the video of the confrontation with Mayorkas

Advocates demanded answers from Mayorkas as he left the hearing, with the following questions: “What are you doing to close ICE detention centers? Will you keep investing in policies, in agencies, that are separating families at the border that are coming here for safety? Have you ever been inside an immigration detention center? Do you want people dying, immigrants, like my parents, like your parents, dying in ICE immigration detention centers?” Mayorkas remained silent, refusing to answer.

The supplemental funding request includes $2.5 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more than tripling the previously requested amount, and $5.3 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Already operating at astronomical budgets, ICE and CBP, are agencies plagued by egregiously poor conditions, a lack of accountability and a culture of violence that results in system-wide abuses, including death. Last year was the deadliest year for migrants in the southern border regions ever recorded by CBP.

Activists also confronted over 15 senators, including Senator Manchin (WV), Senator Merkley (OR),  Senator Kaine (VA), Senator Schatz (HI), Senator Baldwin (WI), and Senator Reed (RI) featured in the below video, demanding they call for a ceasefire and reject the supplemental funding request that also includes $14 billion in funding for the Israeli government’s genocidal war that will continue the dehumanization, ethnic cleansing, and massive humanitarian crisis enveloping 2.2 million people in Gaza. 

Watch the compilation video of the confrontation with members of Congress

Pangea Legal Services said:

"As a community legal services organization run by and for immigrants, we express our unequivocal solidarity with Palestine. We support Palestinian liberation in the face of Israeli genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. We know that Palestinian liberation is integral to freedom and justice for all communities. Every day, we work alongside immigrant communities as they mobilize to stop deportations, end immigration detention, and build toward a future where we all can thrive. While doing this work for so many years, our immigrant communities have learned how our struggles against violent immigration enforcement and detention in the U.S. are directly connected to struggles against militarism and racial capitalism around the world."

Project ANAR, said: 

"As an Afghan community immigrant justice organization, we know firsthand how the government finds resources to incarcerate, invade, and occupy our communities here and abroad, but makes excuses when we demand humane, accessible, and dignified pathways for our loved ones. We denounce additional funding for militarism and the suffering it inflicts on our communities, whether it is in Afghanistan, at the U.S.-Mexico border, or in Palestine. We urge Congress to reject this request which will only perpetuate that suffering, and to instead focus its attention on heeding the resounding calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. We recognize that the movement for immigrant justice is linked directly with the movement for freedom of the Palestinian people."

Stacy Suh, Program Director of Detention Watch Network, said:

“ICE and CBP target Black and brown immigrant communities, combining demonizing rhetoric, violent tactics and criminalizing practices that spread xenophobia and galvanize white supremacists. Militarizing our borders and incarcerating migrants has never made our communities more safe, and neither has propagating this agenda abroad. Detention Watch Network is in solidarity with the Palestinian people and our many partners and allies in demanding an immediate ceasefire and urges members of Congress vehemently reject this funding request.”

Quixote Center, said: 

“We urge Congress to reject any additional funding for ICE or CBP that is intended to further detain, surveil, and rapidly deport migrants and their families. We denounce the request to fund deportation flights from foreign countries, such as Panama, where our migrant shelter partners must work to mitigate the fatal impact of U.S. policy. Funding billions more into militarization, whether at our southern border or abroad, does nothing to serve U.S. communities. We instead urge Congress to invest in expanding legal pathways and humane solutions that honor the life and dignity of all people.”