Trump Administration Budget Aims to Undermine Due Process and Implement Mass Deportation Plan

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - AILA opposes the Trump Administration's newly released Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, which would fund massive increases in immigration enforcement and border security and undermine due process in immigration law through the power of the purse. This request for billions more dollars to grow an enormous deportation force - which has already ripped apart families and communities - is especially extraordinary considering that President Trump is demanding deep cuts in domestic programs that are vital to working class Americans. Most troubling, the Administration's budget would fund a 66 percent increase in the nation's already sprawling immigration detention system and add 1,500 enforcement agents.

The proposed budget is not based on any demonstrated border security or public safety needs. In fact, border apprehensions have declined steadily during the past two decades. Moreover, the Administration is indiscriminately arresting and detaining undocumented people, families, and Dreamers. ICE statistics show that, in the first 100 days of the new Administration, arrests of individuals with no criminal convictions increased by 157 percent.

The proposed budget goes hand-in-hand with several bills now being moved through Congress that constitute an unprecedented expansion of immigration enforcement that is fundamentally inconsistent with principles of due process and fairness. Together the budget and these enforcement-only bills would enable the Administration to implement an immigration agenda focused solely on mass detention and deportation without regard to the harm it would do to American communities.

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director noted, "Nowhere in this budget is there any recognition that immigrants have been crucial to America's success. This budget ignores the desperate need in our country for smart immigration reform that will benefit all Americans and offer a chance for the undocumented to legalize their status - something 90 percent of Americans want. This budget fails on so many levels."

The Administration and DHS budget documents released today include the following provisions:

Increased Enforcement and Detention

  • The Trump Administration budget is seeking funding to maintain an average daily detained population of 51,379, an increase of 66% over prior Congressional authorizations of 34,000 detention beds.
  • There is currently no need for any additional detention capacity. In order to maintain an average daily population above 51,000, ICE will have to arrest, detain and deport tens of thousands of long-time residents who pose no threat to public safety.
  • DHS disclosed in its budget documents that ICE will no longer expect the overwhelming majority of its detention facilities to comply with any set of ICE detention standards under an alarming rationale: that it is has been difficult for some field offices to find new detention facilities as so many "are unable or unwilling to meet ICE's detention standards."
  • The Trump Administration budget would hire an additional 1,000 immigration enforcement agents for his deportation force.
  • Through the budget process, the Administration is attempting to rewrite federal law to prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from restricting compliance with constitutionally-suspect ICE detainer requests. States and localities would almost certainly challenge this provision as unconstitutional.
  • The proposal includes almost $23 million for the E-Verify program, which includes money to work towards mandatory, nationwide use of the program.

Border Wall and Additional Border Patrol Agents

  • The Administration budget proposes spending $1.6 billion on a wasteful and unnecessary border wall that confers no operational advantages.
  • The Administration budget also proposes the hiring of another 500 unneeded and inadequately screened and trained Border Patrol officers.
  • The immense budgets allocated to CBP under the prior two Administrations have already funded the deployment of costly and extensive border security resources, incorporating a layered system of physical barriers and border security technologies supplemented by a huge force of Border Patrol and other CBP personnel.

The DOJ Budget

  • The Administration's budget seeks the hiring of 70 new U.S. Attorneys at the Department of Justice to prosecute people for immigration-related offenses. Immigration prosecutions already comprise the majority of all federal prosecutions. This is a disproportionate allocation of criminal justice resources in comparison to the far more serious federal felonies for which the Department of Justice is responsible.

Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance

The proposed budget would slash funding for international refugee and humanitarian assistance, including a complete elimination of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Fund which is critical for the U.S. government's capacity to respond to urgent crises. This plan will reduce the number of refugees resettled in the United States to 50,000 in 2018, far short of what is needed.

More information can be found in AILA's report published in April, 2017: President Trump's Massive Enforcement Plan: Wasteful and Ineffective.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 17052361.