Analysis: Sequestration will hamper border security & immigration enforcement
Sequestration will cripple the nation’s border security and immigration enforcement by forcing the Department of Homeland Security to drastically cut the work hours of Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Coast Guard personnel.
Like many government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security is funded through the non-defense discretionary budget, which is facing another round of steep cuts because of sequestration.
Sequestration is the $1.2 trillion across-the-board cuts to the discretionary budget, which is approved by Congress each year and makes up 37% of the total federal budget.
Discretionary spending for both defense and non-defense programs was reduced by $1 trillion under the Budget Control Act of 2011; it faces another $1.2 trillion in sequester cuts on March 1 unless Congress approves a deficit reduction package to replace sequestration.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers that sequester cuts would have “serious consequences” for the Customs and Border Patrol [CBP], the Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE], and the Coast Guard – the three agencies that are responsible for border security and immigration.
The Customs and Border Patrol, which protects more than 2,000 miles of border with Mexico and 4,000 miles of border with Canada, will face more than $500 million in cuts as a result of sequestration. To make up for the funding shortfall, the CBP will have furlough its employees (in other words, impose temporary unpaid leaves) and cut back on overtime for border patrol agents serving on the frontline.
According to Napolitano, the furlough could begin as early as April 1 and the reduced work hours would be equivalent to losing more than 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 2,750 Customs and Border Patrol officers.
The Coast Guard, which plays a significant role in fighting human smuggling and drug trafficking especially along the U.S.-Mexico border, will have to cut back on its operations by 25% if sequestration takes effect.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s efforts to deport illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes will be hampered as a result of sequester cuts. Last year, ICE deported more than 400,000 illegal immigrants.However, sequestration would “significantly roll back progress that resulted in record-high removals of illegal criminal aliens this past year.” In addition, ICE would not be able maintain the 34,000 detention beds as required by Congress.
“Put simply, the automatic budget reduction mandated by sequestration would be destructive to our nation’s security,” Napolitano said.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Napolitano: Sequestration will increase wait times at airports & cruise terminals
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s testimony on impacts of sequestration before the Senate Appropriations Committee
- Senate Appropriations Committee: Written testimony – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the impacts of sequestration on Feb. 14, 2013 (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Analysis: Impact of sequestration on non-defense discretionary spending
- WhatTheFolly.com: 5 key facts about sequestration
- WhatTheFolly.com: Infographic: Breakdown of federal discretionary spending
- WhatTheFolly.com: Discretionary spending will face another round of cuts if the Super Committee’s plan fails