House Republicans had some harsh words for President Joe Biden as they tried to understand why his FY 2024 budget proposal for Customs and Border Protection is less than the previous year.

According to the Congressional Budget Justification for the Department of Homeland Security, the FY 2024 CBP budget is $19.5 billion. This is down from $20.8 billion in FY 2023.

Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) said the president’s proposal was full of “gimmicks” that indicated he is not serious about border security.

“If we funded the CBP at the requested levels, the border would be less secure,” Rutherford said.

The Florida Congressman was speaking to Troy Miller, Acting CBP Commissioner, who was testifying before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the “Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.”

Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) said that figures he had seen from the Department of Homeland Security show record-high encounters with illegal immigrants, 257,000 last month alone.

“I think that clearly, we are seeing a humanitarian crisis along the southwest border,” Guest said.

According to Guest, the CBP is getting a 7.5 percent budget cut in the face of this crisis.

“Should this not be one of the agencies that Congress should invest and invest robustly in?” Guest asked.

Committee members asked Miller how the agency would deal with the expected surge of illegal immigrants after May 11. That is the day Title 42, a World War II-era immigration policy invoked by the Trump administration, ends.

Title 42 allowed CBP to immediately process illegals for deportation to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

That day, the Biden administration will revert to Title 8 policy which calls for CBP to process illegal immigrants and consider any asylum requests they might make. The number of people attempting to enter the country illegally is expected to jump from around 6,000 per day to an expected 18,000 or more.

According to Miller, CBP hired approximately 1,100 processing coordinators and plans to bring 500 more. It is finalizing transportation contracts to move the illegal immigrants and has contacted Panama and Columbia about slowing people’s progress before they make it to the U.S. border.

CBP is requesting $16.5 billion in net discretionary funding, including $34 million, to promote the health and well-being of agents under tremendous stress.

This includes childcare facilities for illegal migrant families, medical care for illegal migrants and CBP personnel, and mental health care for agents and other CBP personnel when needed. Miller said CBP management is also instituting training to ensure agents who need help will seek it, knowing that it won’t negatively impact their employment.

The CBP budget also calls for technology and facility upgrades that Miller termed “force multipliers.”
Plans Include New Technology

He said the agency plans to upgrade existing systems to get information to the agents in the field faster and more efficiently. It also plans to purchase new technology to get more information from areas between ports of entry where illegal migrants and smugglers attempt to sneak through.

Miller said the budget also calls for hiring 500 new agents.

Rutherford and other Republicans on the committee made it a point to praise Miller and his staff for their work. They said they don’t blame him or any of the agents for the situation at the border. But they said the budget numbers don’t add up.

Rutherford expressed concern for the CBP agents.

“The agents’ and officers’ jobs are made harder by the president’s fundamentally unserious budget request,” Rutherford said.

He pointed the CBP payroll is set to be cut by $63 million. By his estimation, the CBP budget, as presented, would be $400 million short.

“The administration is essentially cutting the CBP budget at a time of crisis,” Rutherford said.

Rating: 2.1/5. From 7 votes.
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