The House Is Moving Along a Bill Worth $10 Billion That Would Fund Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful’ Wall and Expand His Deportation Force

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics concluded “the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.” Between 2000 and 2016, Border Patrol apprehensions declined by 72 percent. The decline has been so significant that the average border agent is catching about one migrant per month. Despite this, there are thousands more Border Patrol agents now than even 10 years ago, as the force more than doubled after 9/11 to over 21,000 authorized personnel today.

The fact of the matter is that U.S. border security is more than adequate, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress that is.

Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee voted, on a party-line split, to advance the Border Security for America Act, which would authorize $10 billion to build Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall, to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, to deploy National Guard units, and to purchase drones and other surveillance galore. The bill, in short, approves militaristic responses to the dystopic but fictional vision President Trump promulgates about the supposedly porous, irredeemably violent border. It also includes a congressional blank check for Customs and Border Protection —Border Patrol’s parent and the largest law enforcement agency in this country — by allowing its agents to ignore dozens of environmental and other laws protecting public enjoyment of federal lands.

The bill approves militaristic responses to the dystopic but fictional vision President Trump promulgates about the supposedly porous, irredeemably violent border.

With our northern and southern border allies, the ACLU opposes this harmful and unnecessary legislation, and we aim to amplify border residents’ concerns about further militarization and surveillance of their communities. But the question remains: Why is the Trump administration obsessed with adding 5,000 new Border Patrol agents — including efforts to weaken hiring standards — especially when the force’s current authorization is not close to fully staffed? There’s a political explanation, of course, based on Trump’s fear-mongering about the border and a reward for the Border Patrol union’s early campaign support. But the policy has no basis in the facts.

A review by DHS’s Inspector General just concluded that neither CBP nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which Trump wants to triple in size, “could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 agents and officers they were directed to hire.” This report goes into detail about how current Border Patrol deployment plus staff roles are inefficient and inflexible given mission needs.

Widespread reporting, even a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, shows the perils of the last round of Border Patrol expansion. CBP personnel have a corruption rate identified by a DHS Integrity Advisory Panel as “far exceed[ing], on a per capita basis, such arrests at other federal law enforcement agencies.” CBP has also been responsible for excessive force and other integrity failures that harm individual rights. The basic principle is clear, and law enforcement experts like the Police Executive Research Forum agree: “Don’t cut corners to hire large numbers of officers quickly.”

Nongovernmental organizations studying border security reinforce this analysis. The CATO Institute calls Border Patrol staffing and spending “wasteful.” The Washington Office on Latin America dispels “Four Common Misconceptions about Increasing the Size of Border Patrol,” including rhetoric about a mythically insecure border that simply doesn’t exist outside campaign rallies.

One clear reason for the House border bill is that Border Patrol expansion serves the administration’s goal of spreading fear among immigrants by expanding its deportation force. In just nine months of this year, Border Patrol agents have, for example, harassed and arrested DACA recipients, detained an infant’s parents at a hospital right before his urgent surgery, lied about arresting a domestic violence survivor, and conducted street arrests in Louisiana far from any land border.

The border security bill would only exacerbate this culture of impunity at CBP. Complaints, for example, frequently go unaddressed, as several reports this summer distressingly underscore. The American Immigration Council revealed that 96 percent of complaints reviewed by AIC resulted in no action on the allegation, while the Kino Border Initiative detailed the filing of 49 complaints against CBP, with no response by the agency to 36 of them. Our own Border Litigation Project analyzed CBP records to reveal that of 408 complaints from detained children:

“Only 2 percent of the investigative files indicate that the complainant was interviewed. Only 4 percent of case files contained indications that the accused agents were interviewed. Only a single investigative file contained indications that physical evidence was collected. Only one file noted that investigators made a site visit.”

The evidence is overwhelming that CBP must get its house in order on oversight and accountability, not hire more agents. And Congress must stop using the borderlands and their people as caricatured political props. Instead, Representatives and Senators from both sides should stand with these communities to reject defamatory, damaging legislation like the Border Security for America Act.

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Anonymous

Build the wall !

Hire as many agents and national guard as possible !!

Anonymous

Don't be scared. My mom was about 5 get 2 inches tall. She was extremely loving. I thank her bravery and love everyday. She taught me everyone is good and to always look for the good in people. Do you run and hide when you see Hispanics? I'm sure you don't because you sound big and strong.

Democracy Now

Obviously, we need to build a huge wall around you and all of your racist, Un-American buddies.

Obama

I wish I would have thought of this ingenious plan. But I was a left wing nut who worshiped at the feet of liberal wackos like the Aclu.

Build it and they will not come!!

Haha

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

"I don't mind illegal aliens coming here, as long as they're not coming in my kisser": Mae West circa 1979.

Penny

The NORTHERN Border is where the problems are increasing. Canada is increasing their patrol and their rejection of brown people coming up from AmeriKKKa which then means we get arbitrarily arrested and put in jail on "this" side of the border for no or little to no reason, for months on end with no ability to contact loved ones or inform anyone who's known us our entire lives of our whereabouts. I "disappeared" off of Twitter for 9 months; that's why. I got arrested and jailed for trying to leave this country and go through Canada on to France or Belgium. I'm a US citizen with a US passport or at least I HAD one when I tried to cross that border that day. Border Patrol went absolutely savage on my car, my suitcases, every piece of paper in the car or my suitcases and my purse, read everything, opened sealed envelopes containing transcripts and letters of recommendation for me to get into a PhD program overseas, etc. And now that I'm out of JAIL I haven't gotten ANY of them back YET. That or my cell phones or laptops. I'm lucky they gave my PURSE back with my credit and debit cards in it (but not my checkbooks). I guess because I'm non-white they thought I was an "identity theif" of my own damned identity. I've been getting that way too much these last 20 years or so in this country, in which I was raised and for the most part went to college in except the times I was in college overseas. I'm DONE wasting my life thinking the Untied States is where I have EVER belonged!! If I have to bloody well WALK into Juarez or Tijuana just to get safely OUT of this country and into one that won't turn me out and send me back in to the US to get thrown in jail again like that, then so be it. I want to help build "the Wall" if only to keep American WHITE people OUT of Mexico!!

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Anonymous

Our president is fighting the republicans, the democrats and the media conglomerates. Only president Trump has done this.
Mexico is even more corrupt than our propaganda machines in the US. Revolution and civil war are a real possibility in Mexico, resulting in a mass exodus across the southern border. A wall would be the only method of stopping such an event.
Again our president is prophetic in his decisions. Support this president, he is unique.

Anonymous

Penny I'm sure you where the mouthy little brat that you sound like ! So it's no wonder they went "savage" on your personal belongings . A little lesson for a snow flake .

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