The Honorable Mitch McConnell Majority Leader
The Honorable Charles Schumer Democratic Leader
The Honorable Richard Shelby Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Patrick Leahy Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito Chairwoman, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security
The Honorable Jon Tester Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security
U.S. Senate Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House of Representatives
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy Minority Leader 2468 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nita Lowey Chairwoman, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Kay Granger Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard Chairwoman, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security
The Honorable Chuck Fleischmann Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
March 16, 2020
Re: FY 2021 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Bills
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:
As Congress considers the FY2021 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Bill, we the undersigned national, state, and local organizations call on Congress to dramatically cut the budgets of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to include measures that prevent the administration from exceeding the amounts appropriated by Congress, and preclude the use of funds for programs that unlawfully put asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution in harm’s way.
Taxpayers’ dollars should be spent on increasing the welfare and wellbeing of all our communities; instead we have seen the administration utilize its appropriated dollars to do the complete opposite, year after year. As such, we respectfully request ask that you prioritize the following asks in the FY2021 spending bills:
1. Dramatic cuts in funding for ICE and CBP, including specifically: no funding for the border wall; cuts in funding for ICE and CBP agents; and significant reductions in funding for detention. 2. Accountability measures across spending bills to ensure that the administration is held to appropriated funding levels with regard to detention and enforcement spending and wall and physical barrier construction. 3. Prohibitions on the use of funds for the abusive programs being used by the administration to effectively close the southern border to asylum seekers, including: the Migrant Protection Protocols; the regulatory bans on asylum eligibility; the so-called Asylum Cooperative Agreements; and the newly implemented expedited processing programs known as PACR and HARP.
For seventeen years, Congress has approved funding increases for a cruel, enforcement-only immigration system, more than doubling ICE’s budget and more than tripling CBP’s budget. For three years, the administration has flagrantly disregarded good governance and appropriations law by overspending the already excessive amounts congressionally appropriated for ICE and CBP and compensating with funding transfers from other DHS accounts and other agencies, including the Treasury and the Pentagon. This abuse of power has further entrenched us in a punitive detention and deportation apparatus and advanced the militarization of our southern border. For the safety of our communities and for the moral fabric of our nation, we look to you for leadership on this critical issue.
In recent months, the administration’s ongoing attack on immigrant communities has become increasingly retaliatory and politically driven. The administration announced plans to send officers and agents from an elite SWAT-style unit within CBP known as the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) to engage in immigration enforcement . Likewise, it announced a new effort called Operation Palladium to “flood” these cities with ICE special agents normally assigned to risky border operations . The deployment of these units to targeted sanctuary cities will result in increasingly militarized interior immigration enforcement, leaving families in a state of heightened fear and mistrust, afraid to utilize basic services, obtain medical care, or send their children to school. Militarized enforcement actions threaten all our safety by paralyzing communities and driving people further into the shadows.
These aggressive enforcement tactics feed into an abusive detention system that cages nearly 40,000 people every day throughout the United States, making it the largest immigration detention system in the world . Those jailed in ICE’s network of more than 200 jails and prisons endure persistent and well documented human rights violations on a daily basis, including the extensive use of solitary confinement, rampant sexual abuse, and detention so prolonged and punitive as to have resulted in widespread hunger strikes and suicide attempts . Only halfway through this fiscal year, seven lives have been lost in ICE custody in FY 2020-- already almost equaling the eight people immigrants’ loved ones were forced to mourn last year .
CBP’s track record of rampant abuse, excessive use of force and horrific detention conditions have contributed to more than 100 deaths since 2010, including the deaths of at least seven children detained by federal enforcement agents at the border and tens of shooting fatalities, including multiple cross-border shootings of children . Paired with this administration’s obsession with fulfilling a xenophobic and costly campaign promise for a border wall, the borderlands are being devastated. Wall construction is blasting away sacred burial sites, bulldozing precious natural resources and wildlife, and tearing land away from private landowners and ranchers. While candidate Trump promised that Mexico would bear the brunt of costs, this administration has instead circumvented Congress and unlawfully raided other agencies to access billions in authorized funds to build this vanity wall, all bankrolled by the American taxpayer .
This administration has also utilized congressionally appropriated funds to unleash an inter-connecting web of vicious policies at the southern border that are effectively ending asylum as we know it in the United States. These policies include the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” or “MPP,” an illegal program that has turned tens of thousands of asylum seekers back from the border to wait for hearings in Mexico in horribly dangerous conditions, resulting in more than 800 documented cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults in Mexico . Yet MPP is only one of a menu of anti-asylum programs the administration has developed to ensure that Central American asylum seekers are shut out from receiving the safety they seek, including: the so-called “safe third country” or Asylum Cooperative Agreement and new expedited processing programs that shuttle asylum seekers through rushed deportations while in the notoriously inhumane short-term CBP processing . Congress can no longer stand idly by while the White House and the Department of Homeland Security unilaterally--and unlawfully--close the United States’ borders to those most in need.
Congress must work to restrict funding for the unaccountable forces that target immigrants, people of color, and other vulnerable populations in our communities and on the border. The undersigned organizations stand united in fighting against the policies that exploit and dehumanize immigrants, as well as the funding streams that allow them. We call on you and all Members of Congress to demand a substantial decrease in funding for enforcement, border militarization, detention, and deportations carried out by ICE and CBP.
Sincerely, National Organizations Advancement Project, National Office Alianza Americas All Above All Action Fund America’s Voice American Civil Liberties Union American Friends Service Committee American Immigration Lawyers Association American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Amnesty International USA Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence 9 Stephanie Schwartz, Slate, “The End of Asylum,” Oct. 17, 2019, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/10/refugees-trump-third-country-refoulement.html. 10 Quinn Owen, ABC News, “Trump admin to expand fast track returns of asylum seekers at southern border,” Jan. 24, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-admin-expand-fast-track-returns-asylum-seekers/story?id=68517675. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) Autistic Self Advocacy Network Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Black and Pink Center for Biological Diversity Center for Constitutional Rights Center for Gender & Refugee Studies Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Center for Popular Democracy Center for Victims of Torture Church World Service Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach Columbia Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces Defending Rights & Dissent Demand Progress Detention Watch Network Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries Drikung Namgyal Ling Equality Labs Faith in Action Familia TQLM Families Belong Together (FBT) Franciscan Action Network Freedom for Immigrants Freedom Network USA Friends Committee on National Legislation Generation Progress Grassroots Leadership GreenLatinos Greenpeace USA Hispanic Federation Human Impact Partners (HIP) Human Rights Defense Center Human Rights First Immigrant Defense Project Immigrant Legal Resource Center Immigration Equality Action Fund Immigration Hub Indivisible Japanese American Citizens League Jesuits West JUST NATURE Justice in Motion Justice Strategies Latin America Working Group (LAWG) Leadership Conference of Women Religious Lights for Liberty Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns MediaJustice Mijente MomsRising MoveOn National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) National Association of Social Workers (NASW) National Bail Fund Network National Center for Lesbian Rights National Center for Transgender Equality National Council of Jewish Women National Equality Action Team National Immigrant Justice Center National Immigration Law Center National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild National Iranian American Council Action National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates Poder Latinx Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Quixote Center RAICES Revolutionary Love Project Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Sin Huellas Artist Collective Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Leadership Team South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Southeast Asia Resource Action Center Southern Border Communities Coalition SPLC Action Fund T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights The Advocates for Human Rights The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights UNAVSA UndocuBlack Network UnidosUS Union for Reform Judaism Unitarian Universalist Service Committee United We Dream US Campaign for Palestinian Rights UUSC Clergy Representative Voices from the Border Washington Office on Latin America We Are All America Witness at the Border Women's Refugee Commission Regional and State Organizations ACCESS of WNY AFSC Colorado Al Otro Lado California Immigrant Policy Center Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Mary (New York and New England) Centro de Trabajadores Unidos Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) Colorado People's Alliance Congregation Action Network Diversidad Sin Fronteras TX Faith in New Jersey First Friends of NJ & NY Franciscans for Justice Haitian Bridge Alliance Hana Center ICOM, MN Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA) Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity InterReligious Task Force On Central America & Colombia - IRTF Cleveland Jesuits of the US Central and Southern Province Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action Legal Aid Justice Center Make the Road Connecticut Make the Road Nevada Make the Road New Jersey Make the Road New York Make the Road Pennsylvania Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus Missouri Faith Voices NAKASEC Virginia New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice New Mexico Immigrant Law Center New Sanctuary Coalition New York Immigration Coalition NHCUCC Immigrant and Refugee Support Group NM CAFe NM Dream Team Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Ohio Immigrant Alliance OneAmerica Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition PICO California Project South Public Counsel Sanctuary DMV SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Sisters of Charity of New York Sisters of Mercy in NH Still Waters Anti-trafficking Program Texas Civil Rights Project The Rian Immigrant Center Together Colorado USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus Virginia Organizing Washington Defender Association Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Local Organizations Adelante Alabama Worker Center Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention Alliance San Diego API Equality-LA Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta Asian Americans United Bend the Arc: Jewish Action - Pittsburgh Bend the Arc: Jewish Action - Champaign-Urbana Bend the Arc: Jewish Action - Southern California Bend the Arc: Jewish Action - South Florida Benedictine University Borderlands Restoration Network Brooklyn Defender Services Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC Centro de Trabajadores Unidos Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) Cleveland Jobs with Justice Coachella Valley Immigration Support Coalición de Derechos Humanos Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) Don't Separate Families El Refugio Esperanza Community Housing Corporation Essex County Community Organization Faith in New York Franciscan Peace Center Friends of Broward Detainees Friends of Broward Detainees Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees Granite State Organizing Project Hollywood Church of God Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative Human Rights Initiative of North Texas ICE Fuera de Austin/ICE Out of Austin Immigrant Rights Action Indivisible East Bay Indivisible Northern Nevada Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice Interfaith Welcome Coalition Kino Border Initiative Korean Resource Center La Resistencia LA Voice Legal Services for Children Leo Baeck Temple Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition Lorraine H.Mastin, JD Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center Mano Amiga Mariposa Legal MEKONG NYC Migrant Rights Collective MinKwon Center for Community Action Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (Maryland) New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia NorCal Resist Northwest Philadelphia Immigrant Action and Mobilization Open Immigration Legal Services Orange County Congregation Community Organization Orange County Equality Coalition Pangea Legal Services Queer Detainee Empowerment Project Refugee Support Network Seattle Indivisible Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN) South Bay People Power St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church The Bronx Defenders The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Tri-State Franciscan Solidarity Table United for a New Economy Voces Unidas: Louisiana Immigrant's Rights' Coalition Wayne Action for Racial Equality Wellspring United Church of Christ Whidbey Indivisible Refugee and Immigrant Network Wilco Justice Alliance (Williamson County, TX) Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA)