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Tentative budget deal would cut ICE beds by 22 percent

But can it help avoid another government shutdown?

February 12, 2019

10:34 AM

12 February 2019

10:34 AM

Congressional leaders reached ‘an agreement in principle’ Monday night on a budget deal to prevent another government shutdown, Sen. Richard Shelby told reporters, according to Reuters. The tentative deal is far short of the $5.7 billion for border security that President Trump had demanded to keep the government open in December.

Instead, this plan sets aside $1.4 billion and allows the building for an additional 55 miles of barriers to be added to the approximately 700 miles of barriers that already exist, Congressional aides say. President Trump has repeatedly said that a wall is not required along all of the nearly 2,000 miles of border that Mexico shares with the United States.

The tentative Congressional agreement features a 22 percent reduction in the number of detention beds available to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from 49,057 to 40,520. Democrat insistence on this point caused a breakdown in negotiations over the weekend, sources familiar with the discussions say.

‘A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country,’ Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard said in a statement Sunday.

Last month the Trump administration said it wanted $4.2 billion for 52,000 detention beds. Congress had already limited the number detained to 40,000, but as of last week there were 49,057 people in detention. In 2018, 80 percent of the people detained by ICE had previous criminal convictions.

‘Given that in recent months, the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally has risen to 2,000 per day, providing additional resources for detention and transportation is essential,’ the White House said.

When President Trump refused to sign the budget deal in December, he triggered the temporary shuttering of nine federal agencies and the longest government shutdown in history.

If President Trump were to veto this deal, Congress could override him if they obtain a two-thirds majority vote in favor of the agreement. Given the opposition this deal is likely to receive from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, the option of a Congressional override is probably dead on arrival.

At an El Paso rally Monday night, President Trump remained ambiguous as to what he might do with regards to the tentative deal.

‘We probably have some good news,’ said Trump. ‘But who knows?…we are building the wall anyway.’

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