Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Funding for Immigration Crackdown

Immigration flows into the United States are slowing, but the Department of Homeland Security’s budget for immigration enforcement and border control keeps rising. Congress approved a $40 billion DHS budget for 2009, including increased funds for more border patrol agents, expanded programs to track down criminal and “fugitive” aliens, and for the border fence. The new budget allocates $775 million for fencing along the border with Mexico, includes more funding for detention facilities for arrested immigrants, and gives DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement nearly $254 million more than the president had requested. According to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center, between 2000 and 2005, about 800,000 illegal immigrants entered the U.S. each year. But between the years of 2005 and 2008, an average of 500,000 entered annually, with a year-to-year slowdown. Meanwhile, as DHS continues to follow the lead of the immigration restrictionists in implementing an “Attrition Through Enforcement” immigration policy, immigration advocates are altering their message to emphasize the need for tough enforcement measures. This was seen in the “get right with the law” and “required” language seen in the Democratic Party’s immigration platform. It is also evident in the positions of immigrant advocate groups like National Immigration Forum and America’s Voice who are increasingly framing their policy positions in terms of enforcement and “rule of law.” Commenting on the approval of the 2009 DHS budget, Mary Giovagnoli, an advocacy director at the National Immigration Forum, said, “The more attention we spend on people who are really trying to make a living, is less attention that we’re spending on people who are criminals or don’t merit the right to be here.” “We need to make immigrant communities feel comfortable enough to come forward so that we can root out the ones who engage in criminal activity or who are making immigrant communities unsafe,” Giovagnoli said. With new congressional backing, DHS will certainly continue its various operations – such as Operation Community Shield or Operation Fugitive Teams – aimed at rooting illegal immigrants out of American communities. With new funding and with expanded public support for the crackdown on immigrant criminals and fugitives, immigration raids are likely to increase this year. “We have been committed and have fought for immigration reforms, some of which have failed” said Laura Keehner, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “But we are forced to enforce the laws that are on the books and carry out the wishes of the American people to protect our border.”

No comments: