20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall

20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall
© Getty
Senate Democrats are urging top members of the Appropriations Committee to restrict funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and to reject providing money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall or additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. 
 
In a letter to Sens. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Top Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump MORE (R-Ala.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (D-Vt.), the top members on the panel, and Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - In reversal, Trump says he won't disband coronavirus task force MORE (R-W.Va.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (D-Mont.), the top members of its Homeland Security subcommittee, the senators drew bright red lines that could set up a new government funding fight.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We cannot support the appropriation of funds that would expand this administration’s unnecessarily cruel immigration enforcement policies, its inhumane immigrant detention systems, or its efforts to build the president’s vanity projects," Democrats wrote in the letter, which was spearheaded by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Harris: Trump 'just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op' MORE (D-Calif.), a presidential hopeful, and released Wednesday.
 
In addition to Harris, 18 other Democratic senators signed the letter, including her 2020 White House competitors Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWebb: The modern age of dissent versus riot Bottom line Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not MORE (D-Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Biden wins DC primary Warren asks Pentagon IG to probe military role in Trump's protest response MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Schumer calls on McConnell to schedule vote on law enforcement reform bill before July 4 This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic MORE (D-N.J.). 
 
The Democratic senators want the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will begin drafting its own funding bills later this year, to reject the Trump administration's request for additional ICE agents, and include language that would limit what money the Department of Homeland Security could use to detain and remove immigrants from the United States. 
 
"Under current funding levels, the administration has expanded immigration enforcement within American communities indiscriminately, failing to distinguish hardworking individuals with deep community ties and no criminal record from individuals convicted of a serious crime," the senators argue in their letter to appropriators.
 
They also want the Senate's funding bills to reduce the amount of money available for beds in the federal immigration detention system, arguing that it is "plagued by limited oversight and accountability and inhumane conditions." 
 
"ICE immigration detention facilities and ICE contractors often fail to comply with ICE’s own set of performance-based standards of care for detainees. ... We cannot in good conscience support increased funding for immigration detention beds that effectively sustain such cruel purposes," the senators add in their Wednesday letter. 
 
Money for ICE and the fight over the number of detention beds is likely to be a key point of contention in government funding talks later this year.
 
Calls to "abolish ICE" came under the national spotlight ahead of the 2018 midterm election. And the amount of funding for a border barrier and ICE detention beds were two of the last holdups in negotiations earlier this year to end the partial government shutdown. 
 
Democrats are also urging appropriators to reject funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump declared a national emergency to help get billions for the barrier, in addition to the $1.375 billion provided in the February funding bill. 
 
"Congress must resist efforts to raid critical and effective public safety programs in order to pay for political theatrics," the Democratic senators added. "The president’s manufactured emergency cannot justify spending taxpayer dollars on an ineffective wall."