On Tuesday, March 4, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, outlining his priorities for the year ahead. Here at LIRS, we have been closely following the budget process and welcome funding proposals that would benefit vulnerable migrants, refugees, and victims of trafficking and torture.
The President’s budget impacts migrants and refugees in the following ways:
- Refugee Resettlement and Unaccompanied Children: The budget maintains current funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which invests in the employment, education, and health of refugees, asylees and other vulnerable migrants. The ORR also provides vital services and protections to unaccompanied migrant children who continue to arrive in unprecedented numbers from Central America.
- Access to Justice: The budget funds the Executive Office for Immigration Review. An increase in funding for the Review would allow 35 new immigration judge teams to tackle the immigration case backlog. It would also allow for the expansion of the successful Legal Orientation Program (LOP) and the establishment of a pilot program to implement additional efficiencies in the immigration court system.
- Immigration Detention: 30,359 migrants and refugees are projected to be detained per day in 2015. The President’s budget requests $94.1 million in funding for Alternatives to Detention (ATDs), a smarter, cheaper and more humane way to ensure that individuals comply with their immigration proceedings while supporting our moral and biblical call to welcome the stranger.
- Immigration Enforcement: The President’s budget calls for increased funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire additional Border Patrol agents. It calls for $124 million to ‘‘support, expand and enhance’’ the E-Verify system that electronically verifies the work authorization status of all employees hired within the United States.
The President’s budget has a long way to go before taking effect. This is our opportunity to stand alongside newcomers and voice our support for programs that recognize the dignity of all people.
Please consider taking a moment to contact your Representatives and Senators either through the LIRS Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to let them know that people of faith stand for a budget that supports migrants and refugees.