Joe Biden wants to spend US$13.6 billion from Congress on the southern border

FILE PHOTO: Asylum-seeking migrants cross the Rio Bravo river in Ciudad Juarez

McALLEN, TEXAS (October 24, 2023) — President Joe Biden’s request to Congress for US$106 billion in a massive supplemental spending package, includes $13.6 billion for border security and border communities in the Southwest.

Biden on Friday made the mega-ask to Congress, which also includes $61 billion for Ukraine, including $30 billion to help supply weapons to Ukraine; $14.3 billion for Israel; and $9.15 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza, Israel, and others global needs.

If approved, Biden wants the border funds to hire 1,000 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, as well as 1,300 more Border Patrol agents on the Southwest border. Currently, there are 20,205 agents funded in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

If approved, here’s what Biden also wants to use the additional border funds for:

  • $1.4 billion in grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations for temporary food, shelter, and other services for recently arrived migrants.
  • Equipping Southwest border ports of entry with new technology, including non-intrusive inspection equipment to detect drugs, like fentanyl and other illegal substances, as well as the smuggling of humans through checkpoints.
  • An additional 300 Border Patrol processing coordinators to work alongside Border Patrol agents assisting with the intake of undocumented migrants.
  • An additional 1,600 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers to help hear asylum claims and expedite removals from the United States. And 30 new USCIS officers to process work authorization requests from migrants.
  • Additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities to hold asylum-seekers.
  • Funds to transport migrants, including an increase in removal and deportation flights. The Biden administration on Wednesday began deportation flights to Venezuela. An ICE flight with 130 Venezuelans left Harlingen, Texas, and departed for the South American country — the first time in several years that such a deportation flight has taken off from U.S. soil.
  • The Department of Homeland Security also wants to transport non-citizens who choose to depart the United States, via voluntary departures, instead of undergoing removal proceedings.
  • Providing non-custodial housing options for asylum-seekers, like community-based residential housing facilities with medical and legal facilities.
  • An additional 1,470 lawyers and support staff to assist 375 new immigration judge teams in processing immigration cases. There are currently 2.6 million backlogged immigration cases — the most ever, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
(TRAC Graphic)
(TRAC Graphic)
  • DHS also wants to issue electronic Notice to Appear notifications for asylum and immigration court proceedings.
  • Increasing State Department efforts to create mobile processing offices in other countries for asylum applicants.

The funding request, however, cannot be voted on by Congress until the House selects a Speaker. Several attempts to elect a Republican-led speaker have failed recently and that has put the chamber at a stand-still.