Chair Roybal-Allard Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security Funding Bill

2021-06-30 11:47

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2022 bill:

I’d like to begin my opening remarks by thanking Ranking Member Fleischmann for his input and collaboration in putting together the bill before us this morning. 

As with prior year bills, we do not agree on every funding level or policy priority in the bill, particularly when it comes to immigration.  But outside of that challenging and controversial area, I believe we are in agreement much more often than not. Nearly a year ago in my opening statement for the fiscal year 2021 bill, I acknowledged the efforts and dedication of the Department’s frontline personnel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since January 2020, the Department has seen 52 line of duty deaths, 44 of which were reported as related to COVID-19. On behalf of the Subcommittee – I convey our most sincere condolences to the families and colleagues of the members of the DHS family who have lost their lives over the last year.

More broadly, I want all 240,000 DHS personnel to know that this Subcommittee appreciates what you do every day to help keep our nation safe and that we will continue to do our best to provide the resources necessary to protect your health and carry out your missions.

As I did last year, I also want to recognize the pandemic’s impact on migrants, particularly those held in detention facilities. Many have also contracted the virus, and some have died. 

Members, you have before you the draft bill and Committee report.  We have attempted to address as many of your concerns and priorities as possible, as well as those of the full Committee and House members more broadly.

The subcommittee mark includes $52.81 billion in discretionary appropriations within the subcommittee’s funding allocation. That’s an increase of $387.3 million above the budget request and $934 million above the current year level. To put into perspective the increase above the current year, it is important to note that it is approximately the amount required just to maintain current services across the Department. 

In addition, the bill includes $18.8 billion for major disaster response and recovery activities, which is funded above the subcommittee allocation, consistent with prior years. Throughout the bill, we invest in high priority capabilities and activities across the broad spectrum of homeland security missions, including:

  • $170 million for integrated migrant processing centers at the border, to be administered by the Management Directorate;
  • $655 million for land port of entry construction and modernization;
  • $100 million for a new, non-custodial shelter grant program for families and vulnerable individuals – this new approach is in lieu of family detention, for which the bill provides no funding;
  • $475 million for Alternatives to Detention and case management services, an increase of $34.9 million;
  • An increase of $653.9 million for Coast Guard operations;
  • Initial funding for a 3rd Polar Security Cutter and increased funding for the Offshore Patrol Cutter and the Waterways Commerce Cutter;
  • An increase of $145.5 million for Secret Service operations;
  • An increase of $397 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency;
  • An increase of $133.7 million for FEMA operations and support;
  • Increased funding for firefighter grants; transportation and port security grants; the Emergency Food and Shelter Program; and Emergency Management Performance Grants;
  • $345 million  for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to help reduce backlogs of immigration, refugee, and asylum applications; and
  • $511 million for Science and Technology Directorate research and development, an increase of $67 million

The bill provides funding for an average daily population in ICE custody of 28,500 single adults. 

Although that is slightly higher than the population currently in ICE custody, this bill is for the upcoming fiscal year – not today. Today, the Department continues to expel most single adult migrants almost immediately, without due process, including the ability to seek asylum.  With the pandemic waning, any legal basis for those expulsions will soon be gone. That means that – instead of being immediately expelled – more single adult migrants will spend at least some time in ICE detention while being processed, and the requirement for detention beds will increase accordingly to avoid dangerous, inhumane overcrowding at CBP short-term holding facilities. 

Therefore, we have included provisions in the bill intended to reduce the over detention of migrants as they proceed through the immigration adjudication process if they are not flight risks and pose no threat to public safety or national security.

We have also included funding and directives aimed at improving planning for anticipated flows at the border. Over time this should help reduce our reliance on detention facilities to support the Department’s immigration enforcement responsibilities.

I’ll conclude by again thanking the Ranking Member for his collegiality and constructive input on the bill and report. I also thank the Subcommittee staff, both majority and minority, for all their efforts over the last few months. I am proud of the work we have done on the bill and report, and I urge my colleagues to support it. 

I am now pleased to turn to the distinguished Ranking Member for his opening remarks.

117th Congress