March 21, 2024

Get daily links in your email


This morning the congressional appropriations committees made public the text of the 2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill, one of six budget bills that Congress needs to pass by Friday to avert a government shutdown.

The legislation provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with $61.8 billion for fiscal year 2024, which is nearly half over—DHS has been operating at 2023 funding levels. Provisions include:

  • A $3.1 billion increase in Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) budget, to $19.6 billion.
  • $496 million to sustain 22,000 Border Patrol agents. (As of the 4th quarter of 2022, Border Patrol had 19,359 agents; reaching 22,000 has been more an issue of attrition and recruitment challenges than lack of budget.)
  • $19 million to hire 150 new CBP officers at ports of entry.
  • Funding for 41,500 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds, which is 7,500 above the 2023 level and the amount in the Republican-majority House of Representatives’ version of the bill.
  • $650 million to fund state and local governments’ efforts, usually funding NGOs, to receive recently released asylum seekers and other migrants through FEMA’s Shelter and Services Program (SSP). This is probably similar to 2023 levels, depending on whether CBP would transfer additional money for the SSP’s activities as it did last year.
  • “Up to an additional $2.2 billion is available to ensure that asylum seekers are processed quickly, ports and other border facilities are not overcrowded, and Border Patrol has the tools it needs to improve border security,” reads a release from Senate appropriators.
  • There is no money in the bill for additional border wall construction. Congress rejected the administration’s $165 million request for a third joint processing center for apprehended migrants.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing to consider whether to maintain a stay on Texas’s controversial migration restriction law, S.B. 4, which is currently on hold as appeals of legal challenges continue (see yesterday’s border links). The three judges in yesterday’s proceedings were a Biden nominee, a Trump nominee, and a George W. Bush nominee.

It is unclear how the panel will decide on whether to allow Texas to implement S.B. 4 while appeals proceed, or when that decision might come. Judges’ comments during the hearing indicated clear disagreements.

The law would allow state law enforcement to arrest people suspected of migrating from Mexico into Texas without authorization, and to imprison them if they do not agree to allow Texas authorities to deport them into Mexico. Texas state lawyers said that the state does not plan to carry out its own deportations—Mexico refuses to accept non-federal deportees—but instead to turn captured migrants over to CBP personnel at ports of entry. But the Biden administration’s DHS has declared that it would not cooperate with enforcement of S.B. 4, a law that it is challenging in court.

Texas lawyers sought to argue that S.B. 4 aims to work within the framework of a 2012 Supreme Court decision striking down an Arizona immigration-restriction law. While the hearing was ongoing, though, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) gave remarks arguing that the law instead reflects the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in that 2012 ruling.

The appeals court will hold another hearing on April 3 about S.B. 4’s overall legality (not just the question of whether it can be implemented during appeals).

Immigration judges have thrown out about 200,000 deportation cases during the Biden administration “because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hadn’t filed the required Notice to Appear (NTA) with the Court by the time of the scheduled hearing,” according to documentary evidence obtained by TRAC Immigration. “In three-quarters of these 200,000 cases the immigrant was effectively left in legal limbo without any way to pursue asylum or other means of relief,” TRAC’s analysis notes.

The DHS Inspector-General reported on unannounced July 2023 inspection visits to CBP holding facilities in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. Though this was a moment of relatively less migration—the post-Title 42 lull—the agency’s investigators found Border Patrol routinely holding migrants at processing centers for more than the 72-hour limit set by policy.

Analyses and Feature Stories

With its migration policies—its cooperation on blocking northbound migrants, its response to Texas’s S.B. 4 law—the government of Mexico has leverage over U.S. election outcomes, argue analyses by Washington Post columnist Eduardo Porter and Los Angeles Times reporter Patrick McDonnell.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador condemned S.B. 4 as “dehumanizing” during his morning press conference yesterday. Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena said that the law could cause “phenomenal chaos.”

At the Darién Gap, the New York Times covered visits from right-wing social media influencers, who interview migrants at posts on the Panamanian end of the trail, often taking their statements out of context in order to make them appear more threatening. Their videos focus on single male, Muslim, and Chinese migrants.

At the Los Angeles Times, Andrea Castillo reported on vulnerable Democratic legislators’ recent tendency to vote for harder-line Republican border and migration legislation in order to stave off conservative attacks.

The Republican governors of Texas and California were far more moderate on immigration issues twenty years ago, noted an analysis at Time from University of Houston Professor Brandon Rottinghaus, which narrates the party’s rightward lurch.

On the Right

Tags: News Links