Joyce Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (As Prepared)
The Subcommittee on Homeland Security will come to order.
Today we welcome Acting Director Tae Johnson to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget request for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Thank you for being here today to discuss your funding needs and the critical mission of enforcing our nation’s immigration laws and investigating transnational criminal activity.
Before we discuss your budget request for this upcoming fiscal year, I’d like to take a moment to thank the law enforcement and civilian personnel who play an integral role in carrying out ICE’s mission.
Enforcement and Removal Officers, Homeland Security Investigators, ICE attorneys, and mission support staff work tirelessly for the American people, despite being told their agency should be abolished, and I want to express my sincere gratitude for their efforts in upholding the laws of the land and ensuring our national security.
It should come as no surprise that I believe the President’s budget request falls far short of addressing the immigration crisis facing this country.
And while Secretary Mayorkas and this Administration won’t call it that, it’s obvious to the American people that we have an absolute crisis on our hands.
This request woefully underfunds the tools your agency needs to carry out its authority and serve the American people.
Decreasing detention capacity in the budget by more than $550 million and reducing the average daily detained population by 9,000 is frankly irresponsible and short-sighted.
This Administration may argue that such a reduction is accounted for in the proposed $4.7-billion-dollar contingency slush fund, but we both know that once you take detention beds offline, it’s incredibly difficult to regain those losses in a timely manner when they’re needed most.
We are starting to see an uptick in migrant encounters as we approach the end of Title 42 on May 11th. And unfortunately, given the failed policies of this Administration, we will likely need that capacity.
Earlier this year, ICE admitted it has a shortfall of $485 million dollars – nearly half a billion dollars. The largest shortfall is in custody operations, which provides funding for detention capacity.
If you don’t have enough money to manage the CURRENT detained docket, why would this Administration request a 26 percent reduction in detention capacity?
On top of proposing to reduce detention for migrants who have been convicted of crimes or who have removal orders, your request also proposes to reduce the Alternatives to Detention program by approximately 95,000 participants and nearly $100 million dollars.
Such reduction, coupled with limited funding for transporting migrants, sends a signal that we are not serious about effectively deterring and removing bad actors, including those who have criminal records and are a public safety risk.
On a more positive note, I am pleased to see resources requested for countering fentanyl, human smuggling, and child exploitation within Homeland Security Investigations, although I question whether such resources are enough to tackle these challenges.
As one of the largest federal investigative agencies with broad transnational and cross-border authority, HSI proves critical time and time again in disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations and people who attempt to exploit our customs and immigration laws.
Acting Director Johnson, I look forward to working with you, your staff, and the Department throughout the fiscal year 2024 process. ICE’s mission is an important one, and I’m hopeful that we can come together to find the innovative solutions needed to address the challenges that lie ahead.
Now before I turn to our witness for his statement, I would like to recognize our Ranking Member, Mr. Cuellar, for his opening remarks.