A Wall Street Journal report released in mid-October contradicts an internal Department of Homeland Security memo about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s ability to operate within budget through December 9.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the agency will need an additional $136 million to continue its operations through the scheduled expiration date. Thousands of immigrants are being held by the agency while they wait for deportation. One official reported the number of immigrants being detained had rose from 31,000 at the beginning of the year to 42,000 currently.
Marsha Catron, a spokeswoman for DHS called the report from the Wall Street Journal false. “We are not running out of money for immigration detention.” Catron said that the current budget was manageable despite the uptick in detainees.
The DHS internal memo however, warns that thousands of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally would have to be set free without the additional funding. The memo states that ICE needs the additional $136 million to continue operations through December 9 when the temporary funding bill passed in September expires.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has denounced the continuous resolutions which keep government spending from being increased each year, comparing it to driving cross country with five gallons of gas and not knowing when you will find another gas station.
ICE deputy director Daniel Ragsdale refuted the memo calling it a draft that ICE leadership had never reviewed.
Despite DHS’s denial of a budget shortfall, the agency has requested approval from the White House to increase detention spending. ICE officials have blamed budget problems on a surge in immigrants trying to cross the border from Haiti and Mexico and increased federal detention times. Haitians especially, may require longer stays due to Hurricane Matthew and the devastation it left behind in that country. Johnson recently issued a temporary suspension in the deportation of Haitians because of the disaster.