Avoiding a shutdown, Congress passed a funding bill late this week that included remaining FY 2019 appropriations. Among the seven areas funded was the Department of Homeland Security--which most directly impacts immigrant communities.
On Friday, the President approved the bill; but immediately also declared a National Emergency in hopes to gather $8 billion for barriers.
"In our view, a border wall which denies bona fide asylum-seekers from entering the country in search of protection—their right under domestic and international law—is immoral....
As such, we strongly oppose a border wall and the declaration of a national emergency and transfer of funds to construct it."
Statement of Faith Leaders on the Morality of a Border Wall
"Even during the recent government shutdown, ICE shockingly overspent its budget to detain 7% more immigrants. Growing incarceration harms and separates families. Instead, we should keep families together and heal root causes that make dangerous migration journeys--like those of Jesus' own family under Herod--ever feel necessary."
Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries Director
What's in the Funding Bill?
Despite lack of full funding for the Wall that the President requested, the bill increases immigrant fears by raising enforcement levels through:
- Heightened ICE and CBP funding-ICE is funded at $7.6 billion; $512 million more than in FY2018. CBP will receive $14.9 billion; $942 above FY 2018.
- $1.375 Billion for the Wall-This amount is earmarked for "primary pedestrian barriers" in the Rio Grande Valley, with some sensitive wildlife area restrictions.
- More ICE Detention Beds-Funding levels grew from a FY 2018 average daily detention population of 40.520 to a FY 2019 bed number of 45,274.
- More ICE Agents, and Replacement of Non Profit Providers by ICE Officers-$40 million in new funding will hire additional ICE agents to manage family case management programs to enroll asylum seekers. Additional funding for Homeland Security Investigations victim specialists and opioid/fentanyl investigators were added.
- Additional Customs & Border Protection Agents--600 additional customs officers were added.
How Might Our Faith Values Guide Us to Respond?
- Go here for a Faith Backgrounder to consider how our faith values relate to funding levels around barriers and wall. Discuss what you learn with your friends.
- Read here the full Statement of Faith Leaders on the Morality of a Border Wall, signed by national faith partners--including our Disciples GMP, and leaders from Global Ministries and Refugee & Immigration Ministries.
- Plan to offer a Bible Study Series or Lenten Group around reflections on the Wall; to be released as an 8 part devotions set before Feb. 28th. RIM WRAP will email it out, and it will be posted on our RIM website.
- Contact your Legislators, following reflection and prayer, to share your feelings. They'll continue to be home on recess through Feb 24th. To find your state and national leaders, visit usa.gov/elected-officials.
We invite you to donate to support the ongoing work of
Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries
to ensure justice for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. (Click "choose an option," and select "Refugee & Immigration Ministries.") And--check our
for new refugee & immigration information often!