Senate Appropriators Block Harsh Enforcement Provisions from Conference Agreement on DHS Funding

House and Senate negotiators, on 9/25/06, agreed on a $34.8 billion conference report to fund the DHS in FY 2007 (H.R. 5441). This sum is an increase of $2.3 billion above fiscal year 2006 and $2.7 billion above the President’s request (includes $1.8 in emergency spending). The conference agreement is expected to be cleared by both chambers by the end of the week. Thanks in part to the work of AILA members, a group of Senate appropriators prevented the inclusion in the conference report of harsh immigration enforcement measures that House Republicans attempted to attach to it.

The agreement provides $21.3 billion for border protection, immigration enforcement, and related activities—a $2.1 billion increase over FY 2006. This figure includes $5.2 billion for the Secure Border Initiative which, the appropriations committee explains, will provide DHS “with the appropriate mix of technology, personnel, and infrastructure to prevent terrorists and other criminals from exploiting our borders and immigration system.” Highlights include:

  • $2.77 billion for border patrol, adding 1,500 new Border Patrol agents, for a total of 14,800;
  • $1.2 billion for border fencing, vehicle barriers, technology and infrastructure;
  • $4.2 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);
  • $3.1 billion for the Coast Guard’s homeland security missions;
  • $1.38 billion for ICE custody operations, adding 6,700 detention beds, for a total of 27,500;
  • $28.2 million to assist state and local efforts to enforce immigration law;
  • $238 million for transportation and removal of undocumented aliens;
  • $600 million for Air and Marine Operations for border and airspace security;
  • $183 million for a total of 75 fugitive operations teams nation-wide, an increase of 23;
  • $137 million for the Criminal Alien Program;
  • $44 million for Alternatives to Detention;
  • $362 million for the US-VISIT program; and
  • $135 million to support immigration verification systems.

Appropriators also agreed to add language criminalizing the construction of cross-border tunnels, and extending the deadline for implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) from January 1, 2008, to June 1, 2009.

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06092663.

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