LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14, 2019 – As Congress is set to approve a federal spending bill to avert a second government shutdown, the Trump Administration proves again it is set on ruling by chaos, abusing power and is eager to create more devastation by declaring a national emergency for a border wall that Americans are adamant they do not want. SEIU California is committed to standing with leaders who want to help all working families – regardless of immigration status.

“Today it’s declaring a national emergency and threatening the funding of other essential services for people for an unnecessary and destructive wall that only serves to separate families. Just weeks ago, it was sanctioning the longest government shut down in U.S. history and allowing millions of workers to go without pay,” said David Huerta, SEIU-USWW President and SEIU California Board Member. “The Administration and congressional Republicans cannot negotiate federal spending on the backs of working families who simply want their leaders to focus on real priorities – healthcare, housing and education.”

The Appropriations Act of DHS 2019 Congress is set to pass is deeply concerning given the increased funding to detain immigrants seeking safe refuge, the provision of $1.375 billion for a border wall and an additional 55 miles of new border wall. This Act will only lead to the detention of more children, women and men and further militarizing of southern border communities.

According to SEIU-USWW Policy Director, Christian Ramirez: “It’s estimated detention of immigrants will increase by at least 11 percent, and this measure fails to include critical checks and balances. Every day, 49,000 people are in already being held in detention without the proper humanitarian or legal resources available to assist them.”

“We will not be divided by the racist and xenophobic agenda of this Administration and that our diverse nation soundly rejects,” Huerta said. “Instead, members of SEIU California remain steadfast in our efforts to unite around supporting leaders and policies that advance the values of respect, dignity, justice, equity, and ensuring opportunities for all.”

A summary of the Appropriations Act of DHS 2019 is available below.

Topline Summary Appropriations Act of DHS 2019

  • Overall increases in enforcement funding: ICE is funded at $7.6 billion which is $512 million above FY 2018. CBP received $14.9 billion which is $942 million above fiscal year 2018.
  • The wall: Trump was denied his full wall request but received $1.375 billion for “primary pedestrian barriers” in the Rio Grande Valley with several restrictions in sensitive wildlife areas.
  • Detention beds: Funding for ICE detention beds increased from an average daily population for the fiscal year of 40,520 in FY 2018 to 45,274 in FY 2019.
  • ICE Agents: There is $40 million in new funding to hire ICE agents to manage the family case management program that will enroll asylum seekers. There are no new ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations agents. There is additional funding to hire Homeland Security Investigations victim specialists and opioid/fentanyl investigators.
  • CBP Agents: There are 600 additional customs officers. There is no funding to hire Border Patrol agents beyond “on boarding” levels but the number of Border Patrol is likely to increase from current employment today by approximately 200 Border Patrol agents.

More Detailed Summary of Enforcement Spending

  • $1.375 Billion for 55 New Miles of Fencing (steel slats or other designs currently in use) in the Rio Grande Valley. The bill allows DHS to use steel slat designs, levees and other barrier designs currently in use but not new designs such as a concrete wall. The bill prohibits DHS from building a physical barrier in areas of the Rio Grande Valley, including the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Historical Park, Bentsen-Rio State Park, the National Butterfly Center and the Lower Rio Grande Wildlife Refuge between Brownsville, TX and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • 11% Increase in ICE Detention Beds. This spending bill funds ICE to detain an average of 45,274 people per day during the FY19 fiscal year. That’s an 11% increase from FY18 levels which funded the detention of an average of 40,520 people per day. ICE now has the ability to jail 5,000 more people on average per day in FY19 than in FY18. The bill includes more detailed reporting requirements on detention and arrests.
  • 600 Customs Officers. $59 million for 600 new CBP officers (not Border Patrol). There is funding to hire “on boarding” levels of Border Patrol.
  • Upgrades to Ports of Entry: The bill includes $564 million more dollars for non-intrusive inspection technology to detect drugs at Ports of Entry.
  • New border technology. $100 Million in Border Security Technology and $564 million for non-intrusive port-scanning technology.
  • $415 Million for Border Patrol Holding Facilities. The bill includes money to build a new temporary Border Patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas, to make improvements to the Border Patrol McAllen Central Processing Center and to provide medical care, transportation, food and clothing.
  • No New Enforcement and Removal Operations ICE Agents: ICE is not funded to hire new ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers.
  • New Homeland Security Investigations Agents. Provides an increase of $7.5 million for new HSI Victim Assistance Specialists and $44 million to hire investigators for opioid/fentanyl investigations.
  • More Alternatives to Detention that are not run by non-profit organizations. The bill provides funding for 18,000 more participants in the Alternatives to Detention program, as well as $30.5 million more dollars for family case management. However, the bill also increases the number of ICE staffers charged with carrying out the Family Case Management System for Alternatives to Detention instead of using non-profit organizations or contractors to manage the program.
  • $7.4 Million for ICE Attorneys and Courtroom Expansion.

Accountability Measures

  • No New Restrictions on ICE’s Ability to Transfer or Reprogram Money. ICE has been overspending– they are currently detaining approximately 49,000 immigrants when they were funded to detain 40,500. This bill does not include new mechanisms to block ICE from transferring or reprogramming money to increase the number of jail beds at their disposal. As a result, the bill likely paves the way for ICE to detain thousands more people on average per day by the end of the fiscal year. The bill does include the usual appropriations transfer restrictions such as a 10% transfer into ICE accounts limit.
  • More Staff for the Office of Professional Oversight to Increase Detention Facility Inspections. The bill increases the number of facility inspections and adds funds to bring more ICE facilities into compliance with standards from the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Addressing the corruption within the ICE inspection system is critical. However, given the DHS OIG’s own recent findings that the inspections process is essentially a sham, increasing funds for inspections will not achieve meaningful positive change.
  • Public Reporting Requirements. The bill requires ICE to publicly release report detailing the number of families in their custody, as well as the number of people in immigration detention.
  • Prohibition on Shackling Pregnant Women in Immigration Jail. The bill prohibits DHS from restraining pregnant women in their custody except in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Restrictions on DHS’s Ability to Destroy Records. The bill blocks DHS from destroying records relating to the sexual assault or abuse of an individual in their custody.
  • Additional Oversight on Children in DHS Custody. This bill ensures Members of Congress can inspect facilities that detain children and blocks DHS from trying to cover up any negative conditions prior to a visit from a Member of Congress.
  • More Safeguards for Unaccompanied Children: This bill includes a provision intended to prohibit ICE from using information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to deport the parents/sponsors of unaccompanied children, unless those parents/sponsors pose a danger to the child.
  • An Expenditure Plan. The bill requires DHS to submit an expenditure plan before Congress will release the funds to build a physical wall.

The SEIU California State Council is over 700,000 members strong in California, and we are proud to be part of the largest and fastest growing union in the United States, the Service Employees International Union, with over 2.0 million members nationwide. www.seiuca.org