Higgins Opening Statement at Hearing on CBP, ICE and USCIS Budget Request
WASHINGTON — Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Ranking Member Clay Higgins (R-La.), today delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled “A Review of the FY 2020 Budget Request for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today to present President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget for Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration Services.
I’ve said this in every hearing held this year, and I will say it again: there is a growing humanitarian, national security, and illegal immigration crisis at the southwest border.
This fiscal year, CBP is on track to apprehend the highest number of migrants in 12 years. This increase in new migrant crossings has pushed our ability to properly manage our Southern border and enforce our immigration laws to the breaking point. Migrant processing facilities along the border are continuing to be pushed past 100 percent capacity. Border Patrol is apprehending record numbers of groups of 100 migrants or more. CBP just reported that they encountered over 100,000 people at the southwest border in April of this year, nearly a 600 percent increase since 2017. Law enforcement officers are being taken off the line of duty to transport and accompany migrants at hospitals once they reach our border in deteriorating health.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is unsustainable.
For political reasons, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to act or even admit that a crisis exists. During the last fiscal cycle, they tried to zero out funding for additional Border Patrol Agents. They tried to zero out funding for additional ICE agents. They then blocked supplemental appropriations language to support our men and women along the border.
This effort to defund border security is an attack on law enforcement. It forces illegal migrants to be released en masse into our border communities and prevents ICE from arresting criminal aliens who threaten public safety.
Because of this inaction, last week the Administration submitted a Fiscal Year 2019 supplemental budget request to Congress for $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistance. I encourage my colleagues to put aside their political rhetoric and hatred for President Trump and work to address the crisis at the border. I stand ready to work with members on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation in support of this necessary supplemental request.
Today, we will examine the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request and examine if it is adequate in providing CBP, ICE, and USCIS with the tools and resources necessary for them to carry out their important mission.
I was happy to see increases made to the CBP and ICE budgets to address the crisis at the border and put a down payment on border security.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget funds the construction of approximately 300 miles of new border barriers, needed 21st century technology, and important access roads.
The budget also makes strong investments in front-line personnel to hire an additional 1,000 ICE law enforcement officers, 750 Border Patrol Agents, 171 CBP port of entry officers, 128 immigration court prosecuting attorneys, and the necessary associated support personnel.
I was encouraged to see that the request includes strong investments in Homeland Security Investigations to find and prosecute cross-border criminals including terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, human traffickers, and those who participate in sexual exploitation of children.
President Trump has the determination to do what it takes to secure the homeland, and I support this thoroughly justified budget request.
Today, we are fortunate to have experts before us who can explain why they need these resources and how they will be deployed.
Contact: Nicole Hager