Biden and the Democrats Cosign Brazen Plan to Advance a Right Wing Agenda on Immigration

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, February 5, 2024

Washington, DC – Yesterday the Senate released text of a proposed funding bill that would provide Biden with $118 billion in response to his $106 billion supplemental funding request. The bill includes numerous cruel and dangerous anti-immigrant provisions and will gravely impact people’s ability to seek safety and opportunity in the U.S. 

In response, Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director at Detention Watch Network issued the following statement:

“For months, President Biden and the Senate have negotiated this funding package while using immigrant communities as political pawns. Now, Biden and leading Democratic lawmakers have buckled out of political fear and weakness to infuse the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with billions of dollars in supplemental funding and create new anti-immigrant policies, aligning with a white supremacist, right wing agenda. Shockingly, this bill includes what would be the largest appropriation of funds for immigration detention custody and surveillance operations in ICE’s history. With this bill, Biden and Senate Democrats have created a blueprint akin to Stephen Miller’s, and whether passed or not, it creates a new starting point for future negotiations that double down on exclusionary and racist immigration policies.

Make no mistake, the Biden administration has abandoned any shred of moral compass by accepting this deal that will lead to more immigration detention, more family separation, and more migrant lives in jeopardy. 

The anti-immigrant provisions of the supplemental funding deal include:

  • Over $3.2 billion dollars for expanded ICE detention capacity (which would be the largest appropriation for custody operations in ICE's history if passed), almost $1.3 billion for ICE’s surveillance or “alternatives to detention” programming (nearly triple its regular annual appropriation), over $2.5 billion for removal flights and related activities, including “staging facilities,” $1.12 billion for hiring additional ICE and CBP officers, and $210 million for U.S. Marshals Service detention 
  • Making an additional $350 million available to transfer to DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contingent on ICE’s ability to reach a detention capacity of 46,500, among other conditions
  • A new expulsion authority, which will ban entry for nearly everyone in between ports of entry at the Southern Border when crossings hit an average of 5,000 or 8,500 in a single day. This ban includes asylum seekers who will be denied entry unless they spontaneously declare fear of return, and even then they would only qualify for a lesser form of protection
  • A whole new asylum system which makes it nearly impossible for people to obtain asylum. This new system includes fast-tracked processing, a heightened standard for showing a credible fear of persecution at the first stage, mandated placement of asylum seekers in ICE surveillance programming, and no judicial review whatsoever. 

Taken alone, any one of these sweeping changes would have dire consequences for immigrant communities, but combined they will be devastating. These provisions not only impact newly arriving people at our Southern border, with particularly devastating effects for people seeking asylum, but the increased detention capacity and personnel could also put people who have been living and working in the United States for years at heightened risk of arrest and deportation.

Today, Biden has sent a clear and dangerous message that he sees immigrant and refugee lives as expendable. He has cosigned a racist and immoral right wing agenda on immigration despite his numerous promises to establish a ‘fair and humane’ immigration system. By bargaining with immigrant lives, he has put all of us at risk and left a permanent stain on his legacy and the United States as a whole. Detention Watch Network urges the Senate to vehemently reject this proposal.” 

Detention Watch Network (DWN)
is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States.