The budget would add staff to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detention and removals branch, which expels illegal aliens from the United States. The unit extradited 142,008 aliens in fiscal 2003, but faces a daunting backlog of immigration cases. Roughly 400,000 aliens have fled after receiving a final order of deportation from an immigration judge.
The staffing increases would be the first for the office in two years, according to Anthony Tangeman, director of detention and removals in ICE. "If we continue to prove our worth to the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, hopefully our program will grow over the years," he said Tuesday.
The Bush budget would fund 30 new fugitive operations teams, which are dedicated solely to apprehending and deporting alien absconders. ICE currently has 18 such teams. It also would provide 269 new immigration enforcement agents for the institutional removal program, where criminal aliens in federal and state prisons are released into ICE custody. Because of staffing shortfalls, ICE now taps its criminal investigators to help staff this program.
The budget also would fund 60 positions to oversee ICE's intensive supervision appearance program, an attempt to encourage aliens to appear at their immigration court hearings. ICE will hire a private contractor to run this program, which is set to start in eight U.S. cities later this year. The new ICE positions will provide oversight for the contractor, according to Tangeman. The agency expects to award a contract for the program soon, he added.
Despite the backlog of absconder cases, Tangeman's strategic planning efforts won kudos from OMB, which labeled his office "moderately effective" in a review using its Program Assessment Rating Tool. The Bush administration has said that PART ratings help inform its spending decisions.
All told, ICE detention operations received a $108.2 million spending hike in the Bush budget.
The budget also provides $78 million in new funds for ICE's investigations branch, providing more staff for the compliance enforcement unit, a headquarters office that analyzes data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.
The budget also funds construction at 12 Border Patrol stations, many of which are located along the U.S. Canada border. The Border Patrol is part of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, another Homeland Security Department agency.