For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 17, 2021

245 Human and Civil Rights Organizations call on Congress to Cut Funding for ICE and CBP by at least 50% in FY2022 DHS Appropriations Bill

Washington, DC — More than 240 non-governmental organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership today calling on members to cut funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) overall budgets by 50 percent in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill. The letter comes following a year of significant abuses in ICE and CBP custody, including the highest-reported death toll of immigrants under ICE custody in 15 years. Most recently, despite DHS’ discretion to halt removals, ICE has hurriedly carried out over 26,000 deportations and expulsions between Jan. 20th and February 16th, 2021, all supported by the Department’s astronomical budget amid a global pandemic.     

The advocates joined members of the Defund Hate and We Are Home Campaigns to tell Congress in the letter: “The federal budget should be a moral document that reflects our values, in which funding that perpetuates xenophobia and racism has no place. Congress has the opportunity to chart a new course by investing taxpayer dollars into the collective health and well-being of everyone, regardless of immigration status.“

Each year the federal government pours $25 billion into ICE and CBP’s budgets to militarize border communities and profile, jail, and deport members of our communities and people seeking a better life. Since fiscal year 2016, CBP’s budget has increased from $11.1 billion to $15 billion, and ICE’s budget has increased from $5.8 billion to $8 billion. Many of these increases were compounded by these agencies transferring and “reprogramming” funding outside of the usual congressional budgeting processes, and often in violation of the expressed intent of congressional appropriators. 

The letter outlines four priorities for the FY2022 appropriations bill to reduce the harm these agencies can do to immigrant and border communities, and ensure DHS is held accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars and for respecting human rights: 

  • Cut funding for ICE and CBP’s overall budgets by at least 50 percent, including specifically 50% cuts in funding for ICE officers and Border Patrol agents. 
  • Reduce the ICE Custody Operations account by at least 75 percent, including through prohibition of the use of funds for the detention of families, and ensuring that ICE cannot use funds to detain people without access to an individualized consideration of release. Instead invest funding in programs that move away from detention and surveillance and prioritize un-mandated, community-based care outside of DHS.
  • No funding for border wall/barrier construction, rescind or redirect unobligated border wall funding from previous appropriations Acts, including from cancelled contracts, and sharply restrict “virtual” wall and mass-surveillance technologies. Instead, provide reparations for border communities and resources to restore areas that have been negatively impacted by wall construction.
  • Restrict DHS authority to transfer and reprogram funding to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations account.


Throughout U.S. history, enforcement-only immigration policies have only led to the dehumanization and gross abuse of people who have made immense contributions to our nation’s culture and economy and to those who come to our borders seeking a better life or fleeing violence. Congress must do its job and cut funding for agencies that flagrantly disregard accountability and constitutional rights.


The Defund Hate Coalition, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Instead, we want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase wellbeing.

The We Are Home campaign is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition with more than 120 partners representing millions of people across the country. We call on the Biden administration and Congress to take immediate action to protect millions of immigrants who call this country home and end the cruelty of our interior detention and deportation system. We believe that together we can help build a country where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential, no matter their race, birthplace, age, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity — while reversing the damaging and dangerous immigration policies implemented by previous administrations.