Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) and three fellow congresswomen are urging their Democratic colleagues to cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because of its alleged abuses on the southern border.
Omar was joined by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) in issuing the letter – addressed “Dear Colleagues.” The letter, obtained by The Daily Beast Thursday, targets congressional Democrats working on a bipartisan conference committee convened in an attempt to reach a deal on border security.
“The Department of Homeland Security is tasked with critical functions. However, under the auspice of the Trump Administration, a number of agencies housed at DHS have abused their authority and the fidelity of public resources,” the letter states. “Funds are being reallocated internally not to make our nation safer, but to build desert camps to inhumanely house infants and to prosecute immigrants who are part of the fabric of our community.”
The letter goes on to request that “our colleagues at the negotiating table” adhere to “the following guidelines critical to protecting families and children and restoring Americans’ faith in government.”
“Cut, do not increase funding,” the January 29 letter says. “A Republican controlled Congress has already sharply increased DHS spending without clear justification. We have seen rampant spending on detention facilities for young children—reports indicate DHS is paying for-profit prison companies upwards of $700 a day to house children in inhumane facilities. The deal reached by the conference committee should not allocate any additional funding to this department or to the ICE and CBP agencies.”
Omar and her colleagues suggest holding off on any additional funding for DHS until the upcoming FY2020 budget debates, which they say “will be a critical opportunity to take up conversations about reforms to the agency.”
“In the meantime, not another dollar,” they state. The cohort of progressive Democrats further calls for limiting the “transfer authority” of DHS.
“No transfer authority. The Trump Administration continues to use DHS funding as a slush fund (through transfers or reprogramming) to increase detention programs and invest in ineffective policies. The conference committee should prohibit transfers and reprogramming authorities,” they write.
Finally, their letter asks for “stronger accountability” to ensure “safeguards to rein in DHS” and correct its “failed track record of missing congressional deadlines.”
“As a nation, we need comprehensive immigration reform driven by justice and data. Let us be clear that that process will not play out during the conference committee’s narrow DHS deliberations,” the letter concludes. “The sole focus of this conference committee is to put forward a short term spending package for seven months. But a budget is a statement of our values. With the world watching and the lives of families at stake, we should not compromise our values at the negotiating table.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Ilhan Omar” by Ilhan Omar.
Photo “Rashida Tlaib” by Rashida Tlaib.
Photo “Ayanna Pressley” by Ayanna Pressley.
Background Photo”Congressional Letter” by Daily Beast.