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More Funds Sought for Wall, Detention Beds

‘We’re asking for about $3 billion, I think, this year for the wall,’ Mulvaney says

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., talks with reporters in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., talks with reporters in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal seeks $23 billion for border security and immigration enforcement funding, a sure sign that he will intensify his deportation agenda and clash again with Democrats during his second year in office. 

The administration will seek a total of $18 billion for fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the Office of Management and Budget said Sunday, a request tied to ongoing congressional negotiations over the fate of “Dreamers” enrolled in the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“We’re asking for about $3 billion, I think, this year for the wall, but we’re also putting in a contingency in this 2018,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that the administration assumes that Congress will get a deal done on DACA and fund the border wall. 

The Senate is expected to begin a freewheeling debate on immigration Monday evening. 

Watch: If There’s a Deal, Then What’s Up With Trump’s Budget Request?

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A group of Republican senators, including Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, proposed immigration legislation Sunday that would grant 1.8 million Dreamers a path to citizenship in return for a $25 billion border wall trust fund and changes to the legal immigration system.

The proposal follows a framework Trump offered last month and discussed during his State of the Union address. The GOP senators will try to include their proposal in an unrelated tax bill during the amendment process. 

In the fiscal 2019 budget request, the administration is making the same demand that any deal to protect Dreamers from deportation must include funding for Trump’s border wall. It is an exchange that many Democrats detest, which helped lead to the three-day government shutdown in January.

Wall funding and legislation to legalize Dreamers were not included in a two-year deal lifting discretionary budget caps and stopgap spending measure that keeps the government operating through March 23. Trump signed the budget deal and continuing resolution on Friday. 

OMB said the immigration and border security funds requested represent  “the investments necessary to construct physical infrastructure, improve technology, and increase personnel, resources, and authorities on the ground.”

The administration will also seek $782 million to hire and support 2,750 new Customs and Border Protection officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents — roughly the same increase it sought in its fiscal 2018 budget request.

OMB also said the administration will request $2.7 billion to detain 52,000 immigrants each day, a sharp increase over the 39,324 beds funded by the 2017 omnibus spending law.

CBP and ICE are two of the three primary federal immigration agencies, part of the sprawling Department of Homeland Security. The third is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  

The White House is expected to announce its full fiscal 2019 budget request on Monday.

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