Trump Budget Cuts could Hit Border Protection Services

Posted March 17, 2017

"The America First budget outlines increases for the department for border and immigration enforcement, including "$2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology", to help build President Donald Trump's much-discussed border wall.

The Trump budget completely pays for the increase in defense spending by cutting nondefense programs.

The DOJ faces a almost $1 billion cut from construction spending in federal prisons, and it will lose a $210 million program that reimbursed some states for the cost of detaining undocumented immigrants.

The blueprint also proposes an additional $1.5 billion toward detaining and deporting unauthorized immigrants and $15 million for a mandatory national E-Verify system meant to cut down on unauthorized employment. That would pay for the hiring of 75 new teams of judges to speed removal proceedings for people in the country illegally.

Critics of the budget plan were quick to reject its underlying premise that the border is out of control and billions more need to be spent on security issues.

Some GOP lawmakers have already expressed hesitation about the wall's funding, which Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail would be provided by Mexico.

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"The next question is going to be: How many miles of wall will that build?" The hiring of additional border patrol agents and ICE officers was a major component of Trump's immigration plan during his campaign.

Trump's proposal covers only roughly one-fourth of the approximately $4 trillion federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year. Those big-picture details are due in mid-May, and are sure to show large - probably permanent - budget deficits. There are some hints from Capitol Hill that Democrats might not be alone in this stand against the wall.

Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman of OH are irate over planned elimination of a program to restore the Great Lakes. His comments echoed similar skepticism Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has voiced in the past. As well, Mulvaney revealed that the $54 billion increase would go not just toward Pentagon programs, but also defense-related spending in other departments. "We don't know the answer to that question because we haven't settled on construction types, we haven't settled on where we're going to start", Mulvaney added.

The "funding provides for a couple of different pilot cases...different kinds of barriers in different kinds of places as we try to find the most cost-efficient, the safest and also the most effective border protections", Mulvaney said.

But the National Institutes of Health would absorb a $5.8 billion cut despite Trump's talk in a recent address to Congress of finding "cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us".