New York Times
By Ron Nixon
May 03, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s plans to hire thousands of new deportation officers, cut off money to cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants and target states that legally sell marijuana were notably omitted from the spending compromise bill unveiled by Congress to avert a government shutdown.
To the displeasure of conservative groups and supporters of Mr. Trump, lawmakers from both parties rejected key elements of the president’s proposals to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively.
“All the things the president talked about are conspicuously absent from the budget bill,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that favors more restrictive immigration policies.
The funding bill does add nearly $1.5 billion for border and aviation security. But while most attention has been paid to Congress’ decision not to include money for Mr. Trump’s border wall, an examination of the 1,665 pages of the budget and accompanying documents shows a rejection of much of the president’s approach to border security in favor of a more conventional approach by lawmakers.
The funding includes money for new surveillance systems, replacing existing border fencing, and adding more unmanned aerial vehicles and other border surveillance technologies for Border Patrol agents. It also adds some money to hire Border Patrol agents, in an effort to increase the number of agents up to the level mandated by Congress.
Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said the spending bill includes money “sought by the president for immigration enforcement and for additional technology, infrastructure, and enhanced support for personnel to secure the Southwest border.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for deportations, will receive $6.4 billion, including $617 million for additional detention beds and to pay for the transportation and removal of detained undocumented immigrants.
And lawmakers issued a stern warning to officials at ICE about the costs associated with detention operations, saying the agency had displayed a lack of “fiscal discipline and cavalier management of funding for detention operations.”
Lawmakers also declined to provide money in the proposed budget to hire 10,000 ICE agents, as requested by Mr. Trump.
The bill also does not cut money for so-called sanctuary cities, localities that limit how much they cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
During his campaign and since taking office, Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked sanctuary cities, saying they harbor undocumented immigrants who are dangerous criminals.
He signed an executive order in January directing agencies to find ways to cut funding to localities that did not cooperate with federal immigration officials. In March, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, said state and local governments seeking Justice Department grants must certify they are not sanctuary cities in order to receive federal money.
A federal judge in San Francisco last month temporarily blocked Mr. Trump’s January executive order on immigration, which tried to tie federal funding for cities to their efforts in helping ICE in immigration enforcement, saying that only Congress had that authority.
Lawmakers also asked the Department of Homeland Security not to abandon Priority Enforcement, a program set up under the Obama administration that they said had gotten better results in spurring local law enforcement authorities to cooperate with immigration officials.
Mr. Trump wants to re-establish Secure Communities, a program set up during the George W. Bush administration that identified potentially deportable immigrants who had committed crimes. Under the program, immigration agents were provided with fingerprint records collected at local jails, regardless of the severity of the crime or if the person had been convicted. President Obama ended the program in 2014, saying he wanted ICE to focus on “felons not families.”
“ICE should ensure that the reinstatement of the Secure Communities program does not undermine the progress it made through PEP in 2015 and 2016,” lawmakers wrote.
The funding bill also does not allocate money to go after medical marijuana operations in states, even as Mr. Sessions hints that he wants a crackdown.
In the new spending bill, lawmakers included a provision that would allow states to continue to write their own medical marijuana policies without fear of a federal crackdown.
The Trump administration on Tuesday tried to make positive what was widely seen as a defeat for much of its efforts to get tougher on immigration. Speaking to reporters during a White House briefing, Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, said the administration had outfoxed Democrats in the budget showdown. He pointed to money for the replacement of existing border fencing along the Southwest border as proof that construction of the wall was moving forward.
Mr. Trump, speaking at the White House earlier, said the budget compromise included “enough money to make a down payment on the border wall.”
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and ranking member on the appropriations committee, quickly responded on Twitter: “To be clear, there is NO funding in this bill for ANY kind of down payment on construction of a new border wall.”
A version of this article appears in print on May 4, 2017, on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Immigration Proposals ‘Conspicuously Absent’ From Budget Bill.
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