(Department of Homeland Security)

White House Seeks $47.5B to Add DHS Staff, Fund Cyber and Border Wall

The Homeland Security Department would receive $47.5 billion in discretionary budget authority for fiscal 2019 under President Trump’s budget request. That is a nearly 8 percent increase from what the White House sought on the department’s behalf for fiscal year 2018.

It is unclear how much DHS will actually receive for the remainder of this fiscal year or how much the 2018 total will differ from the 2019 request. Legislators have not passed final 2018 appropriations. Since Oct. 1, federal agencies have been operating under a series of five continuing resolutions that hold funding at fiscal 2017 spending levels.

The 2019 White House budget released Feb. 12 would provide a down payment on the southern border wall of $1.6 billion to build 65 miles of new barrier in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in southern Texas, along with $223 million for infrastructure, technology and planes on the border. Another $210 million would be put to hiring and training 750 new Border Patrol agents and 153 support staff under the ongoing program to add 5,000 new agents created by an executive order issued in January 2017.

The budget also seeks $5.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations and $571 million to add 2,000 new ICE law enforcement officers and 1,312 support personnel, according to a Feb. 12 DHS statement. ICE also would receive $84 million for tactical radio upgrades, including $45 million for hardware and network equipment to begin replacing 5,600 radios.

The White House asks for $132 million to continue expanding the E-Verify program, an online system that compares information across national databases to confirm for employers that prospective employees are in the country legally.

The budget would provide $2.8 billion for 52,000 beds in centers housing detained illegal immigrants and $571 million for 3,312 new officers, lawyers and staff to process the growing number of people detained under increased enforcement efforts, according to DHS budget documents. Another half billion dollars would go to the costs of removing detainees from the United States using contract and chartered aircraft and escorted flights on commercial airlines.

The Coast Guard would receive $750 million for its new polar heavy icebreaker, $400 million for offshore patrol cutters, $240 million for fast response cutters, and $180 million for aircraft upgrades.

2019 DHS cybersecurity spending would stay even with the 2018 administration request at $1.7 billion, though the cyber portion of cyber and infrastructure protection spending would grow 7 percent to $712 million, NextGov reported.

The continuous diagnostics mitigation program to monitor federal networks governmentwide is tapped to receive $238 million, while the Einstein intrusion-detection system would get $279 million. The White House IT Modernization Plan released in December pushes for CDM and Einstein upgrades to help speed government’s shift to cloud computing, Homeland Security Today reported in January.

The budget proposes moving cyber research out of the DHS Science & Technology Directorate, so the $41 million for those studies will instead boost the cyber research budget to $47 million at the National Protection and Programs Directorate. S&T would get $7 million for an opioid/fentanyl detection program, however.

The Transportation Security Administration would get $3.2 billion to add 687 screeneers, bringing the total transportation security corps to 43,877, the most ever. The 2019 request also includes $74 million for 145 computed tomography units for baggage screening.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund would get a $7.2 billion infusion, while $2.6 billion would go to state and local governments via grants, training and exercises.

The Secret Service would take in $1.4 billion to add 450 agents and staff and $42 million for protective infrastructure and technology including White House fence upgrades.

The request for the DHS operations budget includes $39 million for continued financial management system modernization, and $171 million for communications and intelligence links at the department’s new Washington, D.C., campus.

In addition to E-Verify funds, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would collect $126 million improve its Electronic Immigration System.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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