Border Patrol. Representation Image.
A Border Patrol car. Representational Image. Creative Commons

President Joe Biden's budget proposal for next year includes a $4.7 billion emergency fund for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase its operations during surges in unlawful immigration, NBC News reported on Monday.

Concretely, the fund would let DHS access the money as needed when the amount of border crossings breaks an unspecified threshold. If the money ends up not being used, it would be transferred to the general funds of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The request comes as stalled congressional negotiations prevent the unlocking of funds to address the continued increase of border crossings in the southern border of the country.

Republicans this year rejected a bipartisan package that allocated $15 billion to border security policies after Donald Trump, the expected GOP presidential candidate, said it didn't go far enough. Democrats have gone on offense ever since, claiming Republicans don't want to address the issue and use it for political purposes.

In fact, Biden turned his State of the Union address into a platform to demand that Congress pass a series of measures to 'fix the border,' reminding Congress that Republicans would rather stall progress, as evidenced by their actions last month in which they "killed" the initiative.

State of the Union
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the 2023 State of the Union address. AFP

"If my predecessor is watching, instead of playing politics and pressuring members of Congress to block this bill, join me in telling Congress to pass it," Biden said. "We can do it together. But here's what I will not do: I will not demonize immigrants, saying they are 'poisoning the blood of our country.' I will not separate families."

Figures from a Wall Street Journal poll show that almost 60% of respondents said they would support what was negotiated as a bipartisan package, "with roughly equal percentages of Republicans and Democrats in favor."

In the meantime, there are government agencies who are already dealing with difficulties stemming from the lack of new funding. Axios reported in February that ICE could run out of funds for detention by July, which would lead authorities to release some 15,000 migrants from facilities near the border and not take in new ones.

In need for $700 million Congress has failed to provide, the agency could cut key parts of its budget aimed at dealing with the influx of migrants.

A factor contributing to the strain is the fact that ICE has been assisting its sister agency, Customs and Border Protection.

Immigrants crossing the border are not the only ones who will see these changes, as those coming in through legal means will also feel the effects of the DHS funding drain.

The Department of Homeland Security continues asking Congress for emergency funds, but current infighting has made it unlikely any breakthrough comes soon.

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