Feb 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's budget proposal requests "wildly large" ICE funding

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The White House is asking for a boost to this year's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget, a proposal that includes 60,000 detention beds — 6,000 more than last year's budget proposal and around 15,000 more than ICE actually received.

Why it matters: It is a "wildly large" ask, an administration official told Axios. "It's almost too much money absent any sort of immigration reform."

By the numbers: The administration's immigration focus seems to have shifted from the border wall to detention.

  • The White House has proposed funds to hold an average of 55,000 adults and 5,000 family members each day in ICE detention centers. In the past two fiscal years, ICE has only been granted enough funding to fill an average of 45,000 beds each day.
  • Meanwhile, the administration is asking for just $2 billion for the border wall, significantly less than the $5 billion for the wall it requested last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The proposal also includes funds for 4,600 new ICE personnel.
  • At $9.8 billion, the administration wants nearly $2 billion more in ICE's total "operations and support" budget than they received for this fiscal year, as Politico reported.

Between the lines: ICE held record numbers of migrants in detention during and shortly after the border crisis last summer — reaching an average of 55,000 detained migrants per day.

  • But the detained population never reached close to 60,000. The annual White House budget proposals are generally interpreted as a wish list and are expected to be negotiated with Congress.

The big picture: Next to Trump's border wall, funding for ICE detention space has caused the biggest headache during Congress budget negotiations.

  • It's become especially controversial in the wake of the family separation crisis in 2018, after which "abolish ICE" became a rallying cry among many in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
  • Over the past couple of years, congressional Democrats have tried to lower the number of immigrants ICE is legally allowed to detain, while the White House, Republicans and the Department of Homeland Security have pushed to expand that capacity.

Go deeper

Despite massive cuts, deficits flow through Trump's second term

Trump addresses the crowd during the Opportunity Now summit at Central Piedmont Community College on Feb. 7 in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

President Trump's 2021 budget proposes $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction, but it would take 15 years to balance, according to a source familiar with the budget.

The big picture: The budget will project deficits until 2035 and rather than proposing a new round of tax cuts, it assumes the extension of Trump's 2017 tax bill through the next term.

$3.83 billion from Pentagon budget to be diverted for Trump border wall

A section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Photo: Jinitzail Hernández/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

The Department of Defense is rerouting $3.83 billion from its budget to fund President Trump's southern border wall, according to budget documents cited by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The money is being pulled from other Pentagon budget items including aircraft, Army automobiles and miscellaneous equipment to fulfill Trump's campaign promise of a border barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. The reallocation is part of a larger effort to divert $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds this year for the project, per the Post.

ICE is fingerprinting teen migrants

ICE agents taking an immigrant's fingerprints in 2017. Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have been tasked since January with fingerprinting teens in child migrant shelters who entered the country without their parents, BuzzFeed News reported and Axios confirmed.

Why it matters: ICE says the data collection is for the children's protection, but it also comes as immigration agencies have ramped up their collection of migrant biometric data.