President Biden is requesting nearly $14 billion from Congress to help secure the border, though he still refuses to call it a crisis. The request is part of his $105 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel, which he hopes will win over some Republicans who are concerned about the border issue. However, experts believe that the gamble is unlikely to work, as the request for more personnel would only serve to expedite the entry of illegal immigrants without addressing the root causes of the problem.
Mark Morgan, former chief of the Border Patrol in the Obama administration and former head of Customs and Border Protection under the Trump administration, criticized the funding request, stating that it is nothing more than an “accelerated processing slush fund” and does not provide legitimate border security funding. Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, also declared the package “dead on arrival.”
The request includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel, and $9 billion for humanitarian aid in various hot spots. President Biden argued that the money is needed to preserve America’s leadership role and protect democratic allies, while also countering challenges from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. The president also claimed that the spending would benefit the American economy by injecting billions of dollars into munitions manufacturing.
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However, Republicans have expressed mixed opinions on the funding request. While support for aid to Israel is high, some Republicans are hesitant about providing assistance to Ukraine, and many prioritize border security as the top concern. President Biden’s strategy is to combine all three requests, daring Republicans to reject money for Israel and the border.
Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, defended the offer, accusing Republicans of failing to act and emphasizing the need for Congress to provide sufficient resources for border security. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also stressed the critical need for the funding, stating that it would help combat fentanyl smuggling and enforce immigration laws effectively.
Despite the urgent need for funding, neither Secretary Mayorkas nor the White House has referred to the situation at the border as a crisis. The Department of Homeland Security recently released border numbers for fiscal 2023, which recorded the highest-ever number of encounters with unauthorized immigrants, reaching 3.2 million nationwide. This breaks last year’s record of 2.8 million encounters and is a significant increase compared to less than 650,000 encounters during President Trump’s last full year in office.
President Biden’s funding request for immigration includes money for more asylum officers, immigration judges, immigration court support staff, and additional Border Patrol agents. The capacity for detaining illegal immigrants would also be expanded. However, analysts argue that the focus of these efforts seems to be more on accommodating arrivals rather than stopping the flow of people. The request also asks Congress to fund other countries’ deportation capabilities.
Security experts believe that the president’s funding request will have little impact on the ground, as the lax approach to enforcement and the reversal of strict Trump-era policies have contributed to the record influx of migrants. The debate over border funding is likely to continue as Republicans and Democrats grapple with differing priorities and approaches to border security.