Republican Efforts to Defund Border Security

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Border security has been a winning issue for Republicans for decades. They use the same fearmongering tactics—saying Democrats want “open borders” and to let violent criminals into our country. Their latest attacks accuse undocumented immigrants of trafficking fentanyl across the border. And these lines of attack seem to be working with voters. A 2022 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 40% of registered voters trust Republicans more on immigration, an 8 point lead over Democrats.

If Republicans are so strong on border security, why did they just pass a bill that would cut Customs and Border Protection (CBP) funding by 22%?

Republican Debt Limit Bill Defunds the Border 

House Republicans have passed debt limit legislation that would freeze Fiscal Year 2024 federal spending at FY 2022 levels. This would mean a 22% cut to non-defense discretionary spending, including a 22% cut to border security funding.

Customs and Border Protection is responsible for monitoring our borders and ports of entry. For years, Republicans have been calling for more money and officers to secure our southern border, but their bill does the exact opposite—it would cut CBP’s budget by $4 billion, resulting in the loss of 2,400 officers. Cuts would also mean over $640 million in border security technology would no longer be operational. This loss of resources would have serious consequences for CBP’s capacity to process migrants at the border and to stop fentanyl and illicit drug trafficking. Republicans claim that we have a border crisis, but their bill would only make things worse.

Biden’s Budget Strengthens Border Security & Cracks Down on Fentanyl

President Biden’s proposed budget includes nearly $25 billion for CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an $800 million increase from the previous year. His budget includes:

  • Funds for CBP to hire an additional 350 Border Patrol Agents;
  • $535 million for border security technology at and between ports of entry; and,
  • $40 million to combat fentanyl trafficking and disrupt transnational criminal organizations.

In addition to border security measures, President Biden’s budget strengthens our immigration system. Addressing the backlog of asylum and immigration applications would help immensely in ameliorating the situation at the border. That’s why the President’s proposal includes:

  • $865 million for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process the backlog of asylum caseloads;
  • $1.5 billion to hire new immigration judges and staff to surge to the border and manage the backlog of cases; and,
  • $4.7 billion to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) respond to migration swells along the southwest border.

While Republicans are abdicating on border security and immigration, President Biden and Democrats are putting their money where their mouth is. They’re strengthening border security, combatting fentanyl trafficking, and improving the functioning of our immigration system. The next time a Republican Congressman cries “open borders,” ask them why they voted to defund border security.

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