House Democratic Conferees Unveil Proposal for Smart, Effective Border Security

January 30, 2019
Press Release

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) today released a list of House Democratic proposals for smart, effective border security that Democrats will advocate for in the House-Senate Conference Committee on Homeland Security.

“Today was a starting point, and I am pleased that it seems like the Members and Senators on the panel are ready to work in a constructive way. A finished product will include a good Homeland Security bill, the other six outstanding appropriations bills, and an emergency disaster supplemental bill,” Chairwoman Lowey said. “House Democrats have already included $1.6 billion for border security-related programs in the six outstanding appropriations bills. As we negotiate Homeland Security, we will expand on that amount. We will do so in a smart and effective way.”

“Within the limited funding available in the bill, we will be fighting for balanced investments across the Department’s mission areas. And we will be pushing for a strong, but smart, border security posture, one that does not rely on costly physical barriers,” Chairwoman Roybal-Allard said. “Democrats support homeland security, including border security, that is smart, effective, and consistent with our core values as Americans.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to reach an agreement.”

The full text of the proposal, distributed at House Democrats’ media availability following the Conference Committee meeting, is below:


Within the limited funding available in the Department of Homeland Security bill, we will fight for balanced investments across the Department’s mission areas. We will push for a smart, effective border security posture, one that does not rely on costly physical barriers. House Democrats’ proposal funds:

  • 1,000 new Customs officers;
  • New imaging technology at the land ports of entry to ensure all vehicles are scanned before entering the country for drugs and other contraband.
  • New equipment at mail processing facilities to interdict fentanyl and other opioids shipped through the international mail;
  • New cutting edge technology along the border to improve situational awareness;
  • An expansion of CBP’s air and marine operations along the border and in U.S. waters;
  • An expansion of risk-based targeting of passengers and cargo entering the United States; and
  • Critical repair projects at ports of entry.

Our proposal at conference negotiations also:

  • Addresses the only real crisis at the border – which is not a border security crisis but a humanitarian one – by improving CBP’s capacity to appropriately meet the needs of migrants who are temporarily in their custody.
  • Supports the hiring of new Homeland Security Investigations agents to focus on drug smuggling, gang crimes, financial crimes, and other high priority law enforcement areas.
  • Expands ICE’s Alternatives to Detention program, including family case management.
  • Significantly reduces ICE detention beds; requires more frequent detention facility inspections, and limits ICE’s ability to use more detention beds than Congress intends to fund.

In addition, our proposal supports many other important Homeland Security priorities, which we will not have the funding to address if the President insists we set aside $5.7 billion for border barriers. These include, for example:

  • Targeted increases in FEMA preparedness grant programs;
  • Support for the Coast Guard’s personnel and air and marine fleets, include a new polar icebreaker;
  • Investments in TSA’s ability to detect threats at security checkpoints without slowing air travel.
116th Congress