Jerry Glaser / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Democrats Look to Redirect Homeland Security Hiring After Trump Era

Lawmakers advance funding measure that would slash the number of law enforcement officers at the department.

House Democrats advanced their measure to fund the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday, moving a bill that would reorient workforce priorities. 

Unlike the Trump administration, President Biden and congressional Democrats are not looking to boost staffing levels at immigration enforcement agencies. Democrats said DHS should seek to reduce the number of law enforcement jobs at Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where Trump had sought to add thousands of officers and agents. Instead, the fiscal 2022 DHS spending bill—approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday—would augment the rolls at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Secret Service and other components.

The bill, which advanced along party lines, would instruct DHS to examine the feasibility of reclassifying some law enforcement positions related to immigration. The committee directed DHS to create an entity to examine whether any functions can be accomplished by non-law enforcement personnel to achieve a "more efficient and effective use of resources." The review would need to be completed in four months. 

“The committee recommends that DHS decrease its reliance on [law enforcement officers] for functions where the unique training, expertise and access to firearms available to [law enforcement officers] is not required, such decreasing reliance on [officers] for processing of recent border crossers into DHS systems,” the committee said in its report on the bill. 

The lawmakers generally followed the White House’s lead—as DHS was one of only two major departments that did not receive an overall funding boost in Biden’s budget request—but broke from it on some provisions. The committee said it supported the administration’s request for $345 million to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to hire 1,300 employees and boost overtime, but found the objective unrealistic. USCIS cannot accomplish all that hiring in one year, the Democrats said, and therefore lawmakers only allocated $89 million. House appropriators used the rest of the money for asylum officer hiring, which the White House did not request, to address “the significant backlog in asylum processing.” 

Further demonstrating the break from Trump-era policies, the measure included funding for more than 300 refugee officers. After significant pushback for dragging his feet on a campaign promise, Biden in May raised the refugee cap from Trump’s record low of 15,000 to 62,500 for 2021. He said he plans to further increase it to 125,000 in fiscal 2022. 

The lawmakers said they would fund some hiring simply because they trust the Biden administration more than its predecessor. Noting a shift at ICE toward a more “humane use of prosecutorial discretion”—which the agency gave to its employees last month—Democratic appropriators approved $15 million for the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor. The funds will allow ICE to hire more attorneys to help it address the millions of pending immigration cases. 

FEMA has requested funding to hire thousands of new employees to alleviate strains on its beleaguered workforce and lawmakers said they recognize "the difficulties that FEMA faces in maintaining a workforce that is ready to deploy before, during and after disasters." They requested a briefing on FEMA's plans for each category of its workers, but said the bill would ultimately expand FEMA's disaster response workforce. The measure also provided more funding for Secret Service agents and uniformed officers. The agency is seeking to boost its workforce by about 25% by 2026. 

While the Trump administration consistently pushed for more CBP and ICE personnel, Democrats in Congress were largely successful in blocking funding for those efforts. In the meantime, the administration struggled to recruit and retain a sufficient number of employees to meet its authorized workforce floor.

The House bill will now go to the floor, but the final measure will have to be reconciled with the language agreed to in the Senate.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.