Border Bill Is Dead, But Its Spending Provisions May Resurface

Nearly $7 billion for NGOs and state/local governments to support Biden's mass migration programs

By Jessica M. Vaughan on February 12, 2024

UN provided debit cards issued to immigrants in Reynosa Mexico in late 2021

Analysis of the immigration provisions in the Senate’s supplemental spending bill explained numerous conceptual and operational problems with the proposal that have been described by my colleagues, here. Less attention has been given to the spending provisions. Even though the immigration provisions may be off the table now, Congress still has to pass the annual appropriations bills, so some of these provisions may be reprised. The Senate bill included appropriations of huge sums of money — nearly $7 billion — to support a continuation of the Biden administration’s disastrous policies facilitating illegal migration with taxpayer funds.

The beneficiaries of this congressional largesse would be the contractors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and state and local agencies that provide housing, transportation, medical care, and other services to the migrants, and even foreign governments. This funding would enable the migration machine to keep humming, and greatly assuage the complaints of the state and local governments in places like New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine, Colorado, and other places that have given a warm welcome to the migrants (at least at first), and who seem to be fine with the situation, as long as the federal government covers most of the cost.

The following provisions were in the Senate bill, and could potentially be reprised in the next spending bills, which Congress eventually will have to pass to fund the government in 2024.

  1. $2.334 billion, available until 2025 to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute to state governments and NGOs for “refugee and entrant assistance programs”, such as youth and family services, housing, medical care, and legal counseling (p. 32 of the bill).
  2. $36 million for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund lawyers for “certain incompetent adults” in immigration proceedings. The bill also would have authorized taxpayer-funded counsel for unaccompanied illegal alien minors, but no amount was specified for that program. (p. 62 and p 338).
  3. $1.4 billion from the budget for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to be transferred to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Shelter and Services Program, to be awarded to NGOs for providing shelter and other services to illegal migrants. Of this total, $933,333,333 million would be available immediately. An additional $350,000 could be spent if ICE is able to acquire detention capacity for 46,500 aliens and if DHS hires 200 CBP officers, 200 deportation officers, and 800 asylum officers. An additional $116 million could be spend if ICE conducts 1,500 removal flights and if 75 percent of Border Patrol officers are trained on asylum claims. (p. 67 and p. 82).
  4. $350 million to HHS to award grants and contracts to NGOs or state and local government agencies for additional “Refugee and Entrant Assistance” services to unaccompanied minors. (p. 84).
  5. $850 million to the State Department for “International Disaster Assistance”, to spend on unspecified “humanitarian needs in the Western Hemisphere”. Typically, much of this money is re-distributed to NGOs and contractors who apply for the funds in competitive and non-competitive programs (p. 85).
  6. $415 million to the State Department, available until 2026, to be paid to foreign governments. Of the total, $230 million is to increase the ability of grantee countries to “accept and integrate deportees”. Another $185 million is awarded to countries in the Western Hemisphere to reduce illegal migration. (p. 85).
  7. $1.287 billion to ICE to pay contractors to administer a greatly enlarged Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD) to lightly monitor illegal migrants who have been caught and released. For more on this provision, see here.
  8. The bill would have allowed international or American NGOs, or other agencies, to become approved fingerprint collection contractors, apparently in addition to the current contractor, Amentum, which specializes in security-oriented contracts with U.S. military and intelligence agencies, among other government business. (p. 275).