The Congressional Budget Office has released its score on how President Barack Obama’s $4.3 billion emergency request on immigration will be spent. The big news? The CBO score confirms that the president’s $4.3 billion emergency request is not warranted. CBO reports that only $25 million of the president’s request would be spent in fiscal year 2014 and the remaining funds would not be spent until the next fiscal year or in the out-years.
Congress is currently debating how to allocate the nearly half-trillion dollars ($492.4 billion) in non-defense discretionary spending that lawmakers authorized in the Ryan–Murray budget deal for fiscal year (FY) 2015. If Congress chose to support the Obama Administration’s approach to dealing with the surge in unaccompanied minors, there is no reason why Congress could not do so within the current Budget Control Act (BCA)cap. Congress has already lifted the cap by $9.2 billion from its original FY 2015 level established by the BCA and could allocate some of the spending increase toward the administration’s border efforts.
Congress should use the appropriations process to properly prioritize spending needs, including for border security. Obama is instead asking Congress to circumvent its already inflated spending cap by exploiting the “emergency” loophole. But this is an “emergency” that White House officials reportedly knew about for years now, but decided to ignore.
More important than funding that will not be spent until next year are policy changes that will address the heart of the current crisis. Without clear and concise enforcement of U.S. immigration law, the current crisis will only grow worse. Instead of more funding, the first steps to solving this crisis are rescinding or defunding administrative amnesty programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and clarifying existing law to allow Obama to remove these minors in an expedited manner. Such changes will restore integrity to the immigration system and send a clear message that coming to the U.S. illegally will not be tolerated.
Obama claims that because of a 2008 anti-human trafficking law, his hands are tied. First of all, the president already has the authority to remove these children in rapid fashion. Second, even if he didn’t, Obama has not requested this authority and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional Democrats don’t want to provide this authority either.
If more resources are truly needed on the border at this moment, then the National Guard should be considered as a way to quickly and temporarily support DHS’s efforts. Ultimately though, stopping the flood of children at our borders requires better immigration enforcement policies and a president that is willing to enforce the law.