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Immigration Reform News Update: President Obama's 2016 Fiscal Year Budget Increases Immigrant Detention Funding

First Posted: Feb 06, 2015 01:27 AM EST

President Barack Obama proposed his budget for the 2016 fiscal year earlier this week, but an immigrants rights groups expressed concerns.

The Detention Watch Network (DWN), which regards itself as national coalition of individuals and organizations working to "expose and challenge" the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system's injustices, revealed how Obama's new budget could affect the detention levels for immigrants.

DWN said the 2016 fiscal year budget would increase funding for immigrant detention from $2.2 billion during the 2014 fiscal year to $2.4 billion for 2016. According to DWN, Congress has mandated a detention bed quota of 3,000 beds, however, the new budget requests fund for 40 additional beds. Obama's budget would reportedly increase the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Custody Operations funding with an additional $435.392 million.

For DWN, the increase in detention is "alarming" despite Obama's immigration executive actions, which the coalition said should reduce detention numbers.

"We are disappointed to see the Obama Administration doubling down on their mass detention policies for immigrants. President Obama's funding request for an arbitrary and predetermined number of detention beds, many to be filled by families and children, reminds us just how morally and fiscally ruinous this system is," said DWN Co-Director Silky Shah.

The budget would provide $122.5 million for "Alternatives to Detention" (ATD) funding. The DWN analysis stated the Obama administration would rather supplement immigrant detention than use the ATD program to decrease the number of people detained.

"No one should be held behind bars to meet an arbitrary quota set in Washington by politicians-- and President Obama should be ashamed of his role in this ongoing tragedy," Shah added.

According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees the federal immigration agencies such as ICE and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), his department could receive $41.2 billion in funding for the 2016 fiscal year. Johnson noted the budget would help DHS deliver its "five primary missions," which includes border security and enforcing immigration laws.

"The President's FY 2016 Budget provides the resources necessary for the Department of Homeland Security to further strengthen our efforts to fulfill our wide-ranging missions, while also being agile and vigilant in the face of ever-evolving threats and recent world events," said Johnson in a statement. "But prior to acting on the FY 2016 Budget, I urge Congress to fully fund DHS for the rest of this fiscal year, as the current continuing resolution is disruptive, creates uncertainty, and impedes efficient resource planning and execution."

As Latin Post reported, Obama's budget claimed immigration reform will boost the country's budget by nearly $1 trillion during the next two decades and continued to call for Congress to work on bipartisan legislation. The budget also provides the U.S. State Department with $1 billion to "address the root causes of migration from Central America, including the migration of unaccompanied children." The State Department's budget on immigration includes $142 million for Mexico to help improve its enforcement capacity at its southern border.


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