Trump Is Asking for $4.6 Billion for His Immigration Crackdown

Including $1.6 billion for part of a wall Mexico won’t pay for.

A section of steel fence stretches along the US-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico. Rodrigo Abd/AP


While he’s still waiting for Mexico to agree to pay for his “big, beautiful” border wall, President Donald Trump is asking for $1.6 billion for, as Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney put it, the barrier’s “bricks and mortar.” An unnamed source told CNN that the money requested in the newly released 2018 budget proposal would cover just a few dozen miles of wall.

The proposed wall spending represents a significant portion of the more than $4.5 billion the White House is requesting for immigration enforcement and a border protection package whose wish list ranges from communications equipment and surveillance technology to aircraft and weapons. It also includes $1.5 billion to expand its efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, as well as $300 million to recruit, hire, and train 1,500 new immigration agents, a step toward Trump’s call to add 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection agents. (According to CBP estimates, it would likely take as long as a decade to pull off hiring as many people as Trump wants, and it would have to ease the hiring standards to do so.)

Under Trump’s budget, the Department of Justice would get $7.2 million to hire 70 new prosecutors “to support an increase in immigration law enforcement” and focus on serious crimes committed by immigrants, as well as immigration-related offenses such as reentry after deportation. To help clear the years-long backlog in the immigration courts—there are currently 542,000 pending cases before 301 judges—the DOJ would also receive $75 million to hire 75 new immigration judges and support staff.

However, Trump’s immigration offers little assistance to immigrants who seek to enter the United States legally—many of whom have recently been turned back at the border. As highlighted by Human Rights First, a nonprofit human rights organization, the proposed budget includes cuts to the Migration and Refugee Assistance Account, the International Disaster Assistance Account, and the Refugee and Entrants Assistant Account, “all of which provide vital funding for refugees and victims of violence and persecution seeking safety.” Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist at Human Rights First, said in a statement that “a massive overuse of immigration detention and erecting multiple barriers to entry fly in the face of US legal and treaty obligations to provide access to protection to refugees seeking asylum.”

The beefed-up immigration budget proposal lands at a time when apprehensions at the border are at their lowest levels since the 1970s, and when the total population of unauthorized migrants is on the decline. ICE recently claimed that nearly 75 percent of the 41,300 immigrants arrested during Trump’s first 100 days were criminals. Later it was revealed that only six percent of them had convictions for violent crimes and the fastest growing category of arrests was immigrants with no convictions at all.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate