Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

White House Requests $3.7 Billion for Border Crisis

As the United States continues to grapple with an influx of undocumented children and others along the southern border, on July 8, 2014, President Barack Obama requested a $3.7 billion supplemental appropriation to fund activities at the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), State (DOS), and Health and Human Services (HHS). In its request to Congress, the administration said the money would be used for four main efforts: (1) deterrence, including increased detentions and removals of adults with children and increased immigration court capacity to speed cases; (2) enforcement, including enhanced interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks, increased surveillance, and expanded collaborative law enforcement task force activities; (3) foreign cooperation, including improved repatriation and reintegration, stepped-up public information campaigns, and efforts to address the root causes of undocumented migration; and (4) capacity, including increased detention, care, and transportation of unaccompanied children.

Of the total, $45.4 million would be used to hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity, including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 budget request for 35 additional teams, “would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually,” the Obama administration said. In addition, $15 million would provide direct legal representation services to children in immigration proceedings, and $1.1 million would be used to hire additional immigration litigation attorneys to support federal agencies involved in detainee admission, regulation, and removal actions.

Also, $295 million would support efforts to repatriate the migrants and reintegrate them in Central America, to help the governments in the region better control their borders, and to address the “underlying root causes” driving the migrations, such as by “creating the economic, social, governance, and citizen security conditions to address factors that are contributing to significant increases in migration to the United States.” Beyond initial assistance, continued funding for repatriation and reintegration activities will be contingent on sustained progress and cooperation by the Central American countries, the administration said.

The supplemental appropriations request notes that separately, the administration plans to continue to work with Congress, following up on President Obama’s letter to congressional leadership on June 30, 2014, “to ensure that we have the legal authorities to maximize the impact of our efforts,” including “providing the Secretary of Homeland Security additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” and “increasing penalties for those who smuggle vulnerable migrants, like children.”

The Senate Committee on Appropriations held a related hearing on July 10, 2014. Witnesses included Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary, DHS; Hon. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary, HHS; Hon. Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., Counselor, DOS; and Juan P. Osuna, Director, Executive Office for Immigration Review.

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.