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

20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall
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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 ShelbyThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Ala.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyNegotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break MORE (D-Vt.), the top members on the panel, and Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPress beat lawmakers to keep trophy in annual softball game Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up MORE (R-W.Va.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Democrats aim to block defense money from being used on Trump border wall 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.
 
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"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 - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE (I-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Sanders unveils student debt plan amid rivalry with Warren MORE (D-Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAbigail Disney: 'We're creating a super-class' of rich people Is Big Tech biased? The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad 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."