Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) re-introduced a federal budget amendment that would halt the growth of U.S. immigration detention by prohibiting the government from transferring funds to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purpose of building or expanding immigration detention facilities.
“The federal budget amendment would prevent more taxpayer dollars from being directed toward President Trump’s aggressive and unnecessary plans to expand U.S. immigration detention,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, a non-profit that provides support to detained individuals. “We urge Congressional Democrats to take action and vote for this small but powerful amendment.”
This amendment was last heard on the House floor in August 2017, and 180 Democrats voted in favor. Only 5 Democrats opposed. Since then, we have seen this administration implement a draconian policy at the border, which separated 8,000 parents and children, and in the interior of the country. We have seen the Trump administration, without any Congressional approval, transfer nearly $10 million meant for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ICE.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) diverted over $200 million from other agencies, including $29 million from the U.S. Coast Guard, and even from other programs within ICE all for the purpose of detaining and deporting immigrants. If this amendment to the FY19 supplemental appropriations bill passes the House, it will be one step closer to restricting DHS’s authority to transfer funding from the Coast Guard to ICE for immigration detention purposes.
Freedom for Immigrants worked with Rep. Jayapal to draft this amendment, which takes a cue from California’s Dignity Not Detention Act. The Dignity Not Detention Act, which went into effect January 2018, in conjunction with an amendment to California’s budget bill, AB 103, prevents California municipalities from entering into new, or modifying existing, contracts with ICE for private and public immigration detention facilities, thereby halting the growth of immigrant prisons and jails in the state.