Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that immigration officials and U.S. Border Patrol agents will soon exceed their budget if the rapid influx of young Central American immigrants into the U.S. continues. According to Johnson, the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border have driven up detention, transportation and overtime costs to a point well beyond sustainability, leaving officials and legislators scrambling to react. He was not ambiguous in his timeline, predicting that the Customs and Border Protection agency would be out of money by early fall, with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency running dry even earlier.
“At the current burn rate, ICE is going to run out of money at mid-August and we project CBP will run out of money in mid-September,” Johnson told the committee.
This announcement comes at the same moment in which President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help aid in dealing with the continued influx of unaccompanied child immigrants. More than 57,000 children have been detained crossing the border since September alone. By the end of the year that number is estimated to be north of 90,000.
Johnson urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the budget, suggesting that not doing so would lead to repercussions outweighing the potential fiscal ones associated with approving Obama’s plan.
“[If the budget is not passed] We will have to go to a harsh form of reprogramming that will take money away from vital homeland security programs I’m sure members of this committee care a lot about,” Johnson warned.
On top of urging the committee to approve Obama’s request for funding, Johnson also urged lawmakers to revise a 2008 law that requires proper deportation proceedings for children whose home countries don’t border the U.S. This move comes just shortly after a lawsuit filed on behalf of several immigration reform advocacy groups earlier this week, citing lack of attorneys for children in deportation hearings as unjust.