Biden signs spending bill, codifying a racist and immoral right-wing agenda

For Immediate Release: 
Saturday, March 23, 2024

Washington, D.C - Today, President Biden signed a federal spending bill that dramatically increases funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Adding to its already astronomical budget, ICE will receive an increase of 13.5 percent from Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 to FY 2024, while CBP will receive a 19 percent increase from the previous FY. Alarmingly, this bill increases funding for ICE to maintain an average daily population of 41,500 people in detention, up from 34,000 last year – a shockingly high level not seen since the Trump administration, enough for nearly triple the amount of people detained when Biden first took office. This bill provides the highest appropriations for custody and surveillance operations in ICE’s history. 

In response, Setareh Ghandehari, Detention Watch Network’s advocacy director, offered the following statement:

“By signing this spending bill, President Biden has codified a racist and immoral right wing agenda. The dangers of this budget cannot be overstated. It provides for a massive increase to ICE detention infrastructure to unprecedented levels - the highest appropriated amount for detention and surveillance in ICE’s history - which will undoubtedly lead to suffering for immigrant communities. More funding for ICE and CBP translates to increased targeting and racial profiling, more people in abusive immigration detention, and heightened surveillance of communities nationwide. 

Politicians are playing political games with people’s lives. We join immigrants and communities across the country in condemning Biden and the establishment Democrats for continuing to treat immigrants as expendable and legitimizing the far-right's dangerous agenda, despite Biden’s promises to establish a more humane immigration system. We need real steps to welcome people with dignity and respect, and instead lawmakers are rapidly moving to the right on immigration and providing billions more for ICE and CBP, agencies that have proven time and time again to be violent and shrouded in secrecy. 

Advocates across the progressive sphere continue to demand that Congress redirect taxpayer dollars away from ICE and CBP, and instead invest in resources that support communities collective well-being like affordable housing for all income levels, education and access to healthcare. Simply, people should be welcomed into the United States and allowed to work and contribute to their families and communities. Moreover, people navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and in community – not behind bars in immigration detention.”

Toplines of the bill text include:

  • $3,434,952 for ICE Custody operations, including enough for detaining average daily population of 41,500 people
  • $470,190,000 for ICE’s Alternatives to Detention program (increase from $442,662,000 in FY23) that to date has not reduced the number of people in detention, but rather increases the surveillance dragnet
  • $721,417,000 for ICE’s Transport and Removal Operations ($300.7 million increase), including the transfer and deportation of people 
  • $494,804,000 to hire 22,000 Border Patrol agents (increase from FY23 funding for 19,855)
  • $19,968,000 for additional 150 CBP Officers
  • $1,715,634,000 provided “for border management requirements” including Border Patrol’s notorious “hieleras” or “ICE box” facilities


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.