By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The Department of Homeland Security is set to shift funds to its Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a move that likely will rile Democrats but one that also appears to signify the administration is prioritizing internal enforcement actions against people in the country illegally similar to those that took place last week in Mississippi.
As reported byÂ Politico, the shifting of funds — called “reprogramming” — “is sure to rile Democrats already angered by what they see as President Donald Trumpâ€™s harsh immigration policies.”
The reprogramming is a way to shift funds without having to go through Congress and it’s a common practice among federal agencies.
Analysts believe that the funds shift signals the White House’s continued efforts to step up internal enforcement of immigration laws. Last week, the president said such operations would serve as a “deterrent” to people considering entering the country illegally.
â€œICE is not going to win an award in the Democratic caucus for popularity,â€ House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep.Â Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, told Politico.
â€œI certainly cannot see our caucus supporting taking money from other programs and putting it into ICE â€¦ I can assure you there would not be support for adding additional money for ICE,” she added.
It’s not clear yet how much money will be shifted, but congressional appropriators are currently studying it, reports said.
The chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, California Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, confirmed the reprogramming request had been made but did not confirm much else.
Leftist immigration groups, as expected, complained about the reprogramming, claiming it violated Congress’ appropriations role, despite the fact that it is a long-standing practice.
â€œThis administration has thumbed its nose at congressional authority over and over again by taking millions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for other priorities and using them to jail and deport more immigrants,â€ said Heidi Altman of the National Immigrant Justice Center, which provides legal aid to illegal immigrants.
â€œItâ€™s a threat to checks and balances that is hurting our democracy while lining the pockets of private prison company CEOs and devastating immigrant communities,” she added.
It’s neither of those things.
As noted by the Congressional Research Service:
Enacted appropriations and other budgetary legislation may vary in the level of detail they provide regarding how agencies should spend the funds that have been provided. Even when the purpose of appropriations is specified in great detail, agencies may be provided with some flexibility to make budgetary adjustments throughout the fiscal year. These adjustments may be necessary due to changing or unforeseen circumstances. In some instances, agencies are provided with transfer authority (i.e., authority to shift funds from one appropriations or fund account to another). In addition, agencies are generally permitted to shift funds from one purpose to another within an appropriations account.
This practice, usually referred to as â€œreprogramming,â€ is subject to statutorily imposed limitations.
Reprogramming is generally permitted unless otherwise restricted or prohibited by statute. An agencyâ€™s ability to reprogram may be restricted by including â€œlimiting provisionsâ€ within its annual appropriations acts or other statutes.
As for “lining the pockets” of “private prison company CEOs,” that’s a reference to private contractors who operate some of ICE’s detention facilities. But private contractors account for a significant portion of services provided to, and purchased by, the government every year, including various federal agencies and the Defense Department.
Regarding the reason behind the reprogramming, the number of migrants in custody has been steadily declining since Mexico began stepped up border security and internal enforcement on its own territory. So it’s hard to imagine that the funds would go there.
That leaves internal enforcement actions as the most likely ‘need.’
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