As I posted earlier, GOP budget negotiators entered into talks on funding a border wall and left dripping Democrat bodily fluids. This bill is not only bad policy it is political malpractice.
While I think many of us were willing to accept less than the $5.7 billion the administration wanted for the wall, what came as a total shock was the fact that the GOP agreed to reduce the ability of ICE to detain criminal aliens apprehended within the United States.
Aides said Democrats dropped their demand for a cap on detention beds for immigrants detained within the U.S. Instead, the deal would set an average daily cap at 45,274 beds — less than the 49,057 now detained, two aides said. Democrats believe that will drop the number detained to 40,520 by Sept. 30. But the aides said Trump would retain authority to expand the number of beds by transferring money from other security accounts. Trump could boost the number of beds as high as 58,500 with that authority — enough to respond to a surge in illegal immigration and arrests, one aide said.
I’m not sure this is an altogether accurate description. As I posted in the comments, the border wall has been authorized, in its entirety, since 2006. What is currently at issue is how much money to spend on it this coming year. At no point has Congress set a cap on the number of miles of wall that can be built. If President Trump uses his emergency declaration authority, he can reprogram uncommitted funds within DOD to the Army Corps of Engineers to contract for wall construction. If the budget bill caps the average capacity then breaking that cap becomes extremely difficult without congressional approval because there exists neither authorization nor appropriation for act. This from the Washington Post:
Though the congressional deal struck late Monday omits a strict new cap Democrats had sought for immigrants detained within the United States — as opposed to at the border — it returns funding levels for detention beds maintained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to 2018 levels. Lawmakers backing the proposal, amid calls by some Democrats to “abolish” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said they hoped a bed limit would force the agency to refocus its attention on violent criminals while backing off immigrants who lack legal status but have not committed serious offenses.
Before the deal scrapped the proposal, Trump administration officials had denounced the idea, saying a reduction in detention beds would hamstring ICE and force the release of thousands of criminals. Matthew Albence, ICE’s deputy director, said he had never seen a proposal for such a cap during his 24-year career.
“It would be extremely damaging to public safety,” Albence said.
Albence told reporters Monday his agency has paid for the additional beds by making the best use of its resources, but noted that ICE has an obligation to enforce immigration laws. A cap on interior enforcement would ask ICE “to ignore the very laws that Congress has already passed,” he said.
“We cannot have a system whereby immigration enforcement is only effectuated against individuals once they commit a subsequent crime to their immigration violation,” he said. “If they know there is no enforcement arm within the interior of the United States that is out there looking for them, you will continually have that pull factor and you will never secure the border.”
Some “GOP aides” claim that ICE can bust the cap by taking money from other programs but the purpose of this negotiation was not to deprive ICE of its ability to enforce the law but to build the wall.
Policy aside, the politics are simply criminal.
Trump shuts down the government for a month to get wall funding and what is he expected to sign off on? A bill that gives him about a fifth of what he requested plus it delivers on a pledge that the most radical members of the Democrat caucus have made to defund ICE. It is going to be very difficult for President Trump to convince anyone that anything happened here other than him getting rolled on a most public manner on his signature issues of building the wall and enforcing immigration laws.
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