Monday, June 30, 2008

Democrats Vote to Increase Homeland Security Budget

Democrats Vote to Increase Homeland Security Budget Each year the Bush administration submits a Department of Homeland Security budget that’s substantially larger than the previous year.
The president’s 2009 budget calls for a 6% increase in DHS spending including a 19% spending increase for immigration enforcement and border security. For the past couple of years the Democratic leadership in Congress sent back to the president DHS spending bills that were billions of dollars higher than the president’s own proposed DHS budget.
Rather than putting the breaks on Homeland Security spending on the immigration crackdown, the Democrats in the appropriations and homeland security committees of the House and Senate routinely increase DHS funding beyond the annual rasies proposed by the Bush administration.
This year the Democrats, eager to show their credentials as hardliners in border security and immigration enforcement will be sending back to President Bush a DHS budget for 2009 that will be at least a couple of billion dollars more than he requested.
“We plan to send the president a bill that exceeds his request, and I hope that he again has the wisdom to sign it,” said Appropriations Chairman Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia (Politico, June 17).
The House Appropriations Committee has approved a DHS budget that adds about $2.3 billion to the president’s request, while its counterpart in the Senate approved a $2.46 addition to the president’s 2009 proposed budget.
With the Democratic leadership on the appropriations and homeland securities behind the increases – and with no opposition from the Republicans – it’s likely that the entire House and Senate memberships will approve a multibillion dollar increase in the DHS budget when it comes up for a vote later this summer.
Both in the House and the Senate, Democrats were adamant that the DHS needed more funding to pursue “criminal aliens.”
Cong. David Price (D-NC), head of the House’s homeland security spending panel, has been a leading proponent for increased DHS attention to criminal aliens. "The department should be as zealous in deporting criminals as it is in disrupting immigrant employment," Price says. "In fact, it should be more zealous."
North Carolina is beset with anti-immigrant fever. County governments have lined up to sign 287(g) agreements with Homeland Security; and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a major supporter of involving local police in immigration enforcement, is stoking anti-immigrant fever in her hate-filled election campaign. She is betting that anti-immigrant sentiment will boost her chances against Kay Hagan, a strong Democratic challenger.
The target of Dole’s first television ad was illegal immigrants. North Carolina is home to the restrictionist Americans for Legal Immigration.
North Carolina’s Cong. David Price was also successful last year in raising Homeland Security funding for programs that target criminal immigrants, such as the Fugitive Operations Teams, Criminal Alien Program, and 287(g) agreements between DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local governments.
“Criminal aliens” are an easy target for politicians wanting to increase their standing among constituencies that are applauding the intensifying immigration crackdown. ICE dragnets for criminal aliens are so wide that citizens, legal residents, and many hard-working immigrants are being swept up in supposedly targeted crackdowns.
Homeland Security is increasingly criminalizing all unauthorized immigrants by indicting and sentencing immigrants for what were formerly considered misdemeanors or administrative violations. So those Democrats and Republicans eager to increase the DHS budget under the rationale that they are simply targeting criminal immigrants are just another factor in ramping up the immigrant crackdown.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama, a member of the Senate's Homeland Security committee, has a particular responsibility to speak out against the mounting war on immigrants that is being fought under the cover of homeland security.
Photo: North Carolina's Cong. David Price

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