What’s a more unlikely scenario? That Saturday’s House-approved budget proposal included a funding decrease for border security? Or that on Monday, three Senate Democrats led by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, penned a letter to leaders of the House appropriations committee saying they oppose the reduced funding?
Schumer, along with Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Jeff Bingaman New Mexico, criticized the budget proposal from the Republican-controlled House as “a giant step backward in securing our border,” the New York Post reported. Under the new proposal border security, surveillance technology and fence work would see a decrease in $272 million and mean a loss of 870 Border Patrol agents.
In total the House budget includes about $62 billion in cuts to federal spending.
“They will render us unable to secure our borders and, even worse, will reverse the progress Congress has made in reducing the flow of illegal immigration, guns, and drugs along our border,” wrote Schumer, Bingaman and Tester, the New York Times reported. They said they would not support the federal spending legislation for that reason.
The senators said that the House budget would undo the benefits of the $600 million that Congress infused into border security last summer. The Senate version of that bill was also introduced by Sen. Schumer. The extra money paid for an extra 1,500 Border Patrol agents and two unmanned aerial drones, as well as other surveillance equipment. Customs and Border Patrol is the largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency in the country, according to Alan Bersin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner.
The Democrats’ letter comes amid intense debate over border security, immigration, and the rights of immigrants in the country. Republicans consistently accuse the Obama administration of being too lax on immigration enforcement, despite the fact that Obama is deporting people at a record pace.
This year alone House Republicans have led an assault on immigrant rights by introducing a bill that would repeal birthright citizenship that’s guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment, and pushing for a mandatory national expansion of the federal immigration database E-verify to check the immigration status of employees. Traditionally, Democrats have said that their acquiescence to the demands of hardline anti-immigration leaders of the Republican party is the bargaining chip they use to someday win legalization measures for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. There is little talk of avenues for legalization anymore.