President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request to Congress includes a $5 billion wish to build border barriers “as necessary to obtain operational control of the border and impede the flow of illegal crossings,” according to the White House, along with $367 million in equipment such as air and marine operations tools and surveillance technology.
The budget request released today proposes spending $164 million to hire 750 new Border Patrol agents and $314 million to hire a thousand new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, 128 immigration prosecutors and 538 “critical support staff” to implement the president’s immigration directives.
At ICE, $2.7 billion would fund 54,000 detention beds daily, while $557 million is proposed for removal of illegal immigrants detained for other crimes.
The overall funding request for Customs and Border Protection is $18.2 billion along with $8.8 billion for ICE, a 19 percent increase from fiscal year 2019.
Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought told reporters at the White House today that the overseas contingency operations budget — aka war funds — would not be tapped for “purchasing of or for the completion of the wall.”
“We do have emergency spending that we devote to it, and we continue the military rebuild by asking for what’s necessary to complete the wall. That does include military construction funding,” Vought said. “So what we do is we both backfill in fiscal year ’19 any funding that is used in military construction, and we — in fiscal year 2020 we asked for Congress to appropriate these dollars.”
Trump is proposing a dramatic increase in the OCO budget — from $69 billion to $165 billion — to contribute to $750 billion in defense spending in fiscal year 2020. The administration is hoping to divert $9 billion in Defense Department funds to border security operations.
The budget blueprint proposes using “$3.6 billion in new military construction resources for barriers” along the southern border.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) accused Trump of “attempting to use budgetary gimmicks and billions meant for the Pentagon to build his unnecessary and wasteful wall that the American people do not want and Congress told him he cannot build.”
“The lack of seriousness that the president brings to budget negotiations only further damages his relationship with Congress,” Thompson said. “Democrats wholeheartedly reject his proposal.”
The White House is proposing paying for the hikes by slashing non-defense discretionary spending, including cutting the State Department by 23 percent, the Environmental Protection Agency by 31.2 percent, and the Department of Transportation by 21.5 percent.
“Yes, we are trying to say that we need to continue to secure the country. We need to continue to secure the border. We’re not going to be bashful about that,” Vought said. “But at the same time, we’re also going to say that we have many, many programs that are wasteful and inefficient that we can longer afford.”