‘The end game is tearing it up piece by piece’: Dems’ overhaul of ICE has begun

House Democrats are moving forward with Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the federal agency responsible for arresting and deporting illegal immigrants – amid a raging southern border crisis that has escalated since President Biden took office.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved a plan to fundamentally change the part of ICE that deals with illegal immigration, known as Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), as well as federal law enforcement officers to help migrants. How will you handle

But progressive Democrats, some of whom called for an end to ICE altogether in 2018, didn’t stop there.

“With the new budget, what they’re doing right now is tearing ICE apart. The end game is tearing it down,” said Tom Homan, a three-decade federal immigration official who worked for ICE during the Trump administration. supervised.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent prepares to arrest alleged immigration violators at Fresh Mark, Salem, June 19, 2018.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved a plan that will fundamentally change the enforcement and removal operations portion of ICE.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

House Democrats further slashed ICE’s budget for detaining people, reducing $331.6 million from the 2021 enacted level.

“After the election, there were seven of us seniors” [officials] She said, ‘Well, we need a plan,’ because we knew it would be the beginning of destroying ERO,” said another former senior ICE official, who asked to remain anonymous.

“But we honestly didn’t think it was going to be that bad.”

Under the House measure, ERO will focus on quickly relocating adults and families they encounter when crossing the border illegally to non-government facilities.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns to eliminate ICE.
Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Existing family housing centers run by for-profit companies have already begun to be phased out and the new shelters, which are currently located in major hotels in several southern border states, have been built through non-government partnerships with the government. Big contracts will be received from for-profit organizations.

Rape. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the firebrand socialist progressive Democrat who represents the Bronx and Queens, brought the idea of ​​ending ICE into the mainstream during her first congressional campaign in 2018. By that summer, Democrats in the House introduced a long shot bill. To do so, although the law never ceased.

However, the AOC’s message and election victory in November 2018 prompted other Democrats to join it, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations Tom Homan (left)
Tom Homan, left, said Democrats plan to desegregate ICE.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

ICE’s future was not a major contention point in last year’s election, but ICE reform has been at the center of President Biden’s agenda over the past six months – even as migrants cross the US-Mexico border and coyote human trafficking. activity has increased. has increased a lot.

In February, the acting head of ICE told officials that they would no longer be allowed to arrest illegal immigrants, including those convicted of a crime, unless they were deemed a threat to national security, a top-tier Was convicted of a criminal offense, or was not fit. many other categories.

Nevertheless, Texas Representative Henry Kueller, the second-largest Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, considered a centrist, defended the vote for the bill, insisting that ICE would receive $7.97 billion in total That’s $1.55 million. less than last year.

Central American families board a US Customs and Border Protection bus for transportation to an immigrant processing center after crossing the border from Mexico.
Central American families board a US Customs and Border Protection bus for transportation to an immigrant processing center after crossing the border from Mexico.
John Moore / Getty Images

The ERO received $4.1 billion last year, but is expected to receive $3.79 billion under the current budget of the House. Another component of ICE, the Homeland Security Investigations, is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars more than last year, which has reduced ERO funding, he said.

“Despite this issue, the bill provides the vast majority of the resources needed to protect our country,” Kueller told The Post.

“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and deputy chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, I am confident that these problematic funding shortfalls will be corrected before the bill goes to the president’s desk.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) listens during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Defense Department's budget request on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2021 in Washington, DC.
West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito spoke out against a potential bill.
Evelyn Hawkstein-Pool/Getty Images

But Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.V.) told The Post that the bill “has huge flaws and cannot be signed into law.”

“As the top Republican on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I will do everything possible to correct this flawed legislation, in particular, provisions regarding enforcement and security, which are inadequate and problematic at both the policy and funding levels. And will make us safe.”


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