Obama Budget Proposal: Immigration Reform Reduces Deficit by Trillions, But Billions Set for Enforcement
President Barack Obama revealed his 2017 fiscal year budget proposals, requesting $4.1 trillion, but costs could be saved with comprehensive immigration reform.
Savings Through Reforms
According to Obama's latest budget proposal, critical investments will be made, while reducing deficits by $2.9 trillion over 10 years, and while maintaining progress. But he states it may occur through savings from health care, tax reforms and immigration. His budget plan takes into account compressive immigration reform plans that echo similar provisions to the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744), which the independent Congressional Budget Office projects would reduce the deficit by nearly $170 billion during the next 10 years and by $1 trillion over 20 years.
Homeland Security Investments
The 2017 fiscal year budget plan seeks to invest in border security through supporting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) immigration-related agencies. With the $40.6 billion in net discretionary funding for the DHS, Homeland Security would continue enforcing and administering strategies "that promote lawful immigration while reducing illegal pathways." The DHS says it's committed to allocating resources to unite families who have entered the U.S. legally, but prioritized removals for those classified in its Priority Enforcement Program.
With the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, the $7 billion budget invests in additional border security technology, vehicles, intelligence, and accountability and transparency. The budget supports 21,070 border patrol agents and 25,891 CBP officers, which includes 2,070 new officers. The budget also includes investments for a Spanish-language call center, additional Internal Affairs criminal investigators, purchase of "less-lethal" weapons, and the testing, evaluation and deployment of body-worn cameras.
DHS' second immigration-related agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), would receive $2.2 billion to maintain approximately 31,000 detention beds "for individuals presenting a flight risk, a risk to public safety or national security, or who are subject to mandatory detention." ICE would be given $126 million for alternatives to detention (ATD) for the average 53,000 daily ATD participants in the program.
The DHS budget is not exclusively allotted for immigration. In addition to border security and enforcing immigration laws, Homeland Security's $40.6 billion would also focus on its other three priorities: preventing terrorism and enhance security; safeguarding cyberspace; and strengthening national preparedness and resilience.
Message to Congress
"My Budget makes critical investments while adhering to the bipartisan budget agreement I signed into law last fall, and it lifts sequestration in future years so that we continue to invest in our economic future and our national security," said Obama in a statement on Tuesday. "It also drives down deficits and maintains our fiscal progress through smart savings from health care, immigration, and tax reforms. And, it focuses on meeting our greatest challenges not only for the year ahead, but for decades to come."
Obama's budget also addressed climate change, clean energy, education, job and economic growth, infrastructure, treatment and cures for diseases, and exploring new industries.
"The Budget is a roadmap to a future that embodies America's values and aspirations: a future of opportunity and security for all of our families; a rising standard of living; and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids. This future is within our reach. But just as it took the collective efforts of the American people to rise from the recession and rebuild an even stronger economy, so will it take all of us working together to meet the challenges that lie ahead," Obama later added.
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