A Simple Way to Resist the Trump Anti-Immigrant Agenda? Refuse to Pay for It
THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Jackie Vimo, NILC economic justice policy analyst
June 1, 2017
With so much news coming out of the White House since late January, it can be challenging to keep track of all the ways the Trump administration is attacking immigrants and working families. However, it’s crucial that we pay close attention to one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of American families that this nation has ever faced: the devastating cuts the president’s proposed budget contains that are intended to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and to fund a massive deportation force that will tear families apart and spread fear across communities nationwide.
The federal budget process may seem overwhelming and unintelligible to many people outside Washington, DC, but it is more important than ever that taxpayers speak out to let Congress know that we will not allow our tax dollars to be used to fund Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda at the expense of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Congress controls the purse strings for the funds that the president requires to enact his agenda, and our best hope to defeat his proposals lies in telling Congress to deny him our tax dollars. Instead of building walls and spreading fear, Congress should be funding programs to create jobs, build a strong health care system, and educate our next generation.
Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, released last Tuesday, threatens to decimate crucial economic supports for low- and middle-income families. The proposed budget slashes funding for Medicaid by nearly half over the next ten years, cuts food stamps by nearly 30 percent, breaks his promise to protect programs for the disabled because it cuts $72 billion from Social Security programs, cuts Environmental Protection Agency funding by a third, ends all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and eliminates programs to help kids afford college.
Trump’s budget uses these cuts to pay for his anti-immigrant agenda, including increased funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is currently under fire for fiscal mismanagement and allegations of agent misconduct. This budget is a “Robin Hood in reverse” that steals money from the nation’s vulnerable communities to fill the pockets of millionaires and corporations. It promotes policies that will scapegoat immigrants and terrorize communities by flooding neighborhoods with immigration agents operating under inadequate government oversight.
The Trump budget asks taxpayers to allocate $4.5 billion on top of the $19 billion we already spend on immigration enforcement to fund the president’s plans to build an ineffective and xenophobic wall and to deport millions of immigrants, tearing apart families and communities. Most of this funding would go to hire 1,000 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 500 hundred new Border Patrol officers, and to build 74 miles of wall on the southern border.
DHS is already struggling to hire agents that the agency already has funding for, partly because two out of every three applicants for Border Patrol positions fail the required polygraph test. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s mother agency within DHS, has suggested that it may loosen testing requirements, thereby putting badges and guns into the hands of people who can’t even pass a lie detector test.
More militarized immigration agents on our streets will only make our communities less safe and increase the levels of terror that already exist. In just the first few months of the Trump presidency, his policies’ chilling effects have led to a decline in the number of women reporting sexual assault and domestic violence and to an increased generalized fear of the police among Latinos. Furthermore, the Trump budget encourages increased collaboration between DHS and local law enforcement. Our communities are safer when all residents can feel safe interacting with their local police officers.
In addition to flooding our streets with immigration agents, the Trump budget would also swell our immigrant detention system by funding an additional 51,379 detention beds, an increase of almost 20,000 beds over last year’s 34,000-bed funding level. As Trump calls for increased detention of immigrants, his budget also proposes to eliminate protections currently provided by ICE detention standards and increase the average number of days that immigrants, including asylum-seekers fleeing horrific conditions and children, are detained.
In addition, the budget calls for making E-Verify, the federal government’s Web-based employment eligibility verification system, mandatory—an expensive mandate that would hurt employers, increase unemployment, and harm our economy. Finally, the Trump budget proposes restricting eligibility for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to only people who have Social Security numbers (SSNs). While the EITC already requires that the filer provide an SSN, this budget would require that both the taxpayer parent as well as the qualifying child have an SSN to receive the EITC or the CTC. This policy would primarily harm working-class taxpayers and millions of U.S. citizen children who live in mixed–immigration status families.
Budget negotiations can be complicated, but resisting the dangerous proposals in Trump’s proposed budget is simple. We need to tell Congress that it cannot be complicit in Trump’s build-up of a deportation army at the expense of cuts to crucial social programs. In fact, Congress should be decreasing the funding for the bloated DHS enforcement and detention system that fails to adequately manage tax dollars and violates the rights of immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens. Instead of building walls and funding fear to divide us, we should use our taxpayer dollars to build a stronger economy and healthier communities.
Resisting Trump’s agenda is as simple as denying the White House our tax dollars. You don’t need to be a budget expert to know that military boots and border walls don’t pay for themselves—we can stop the Trump agenda by refusing to pay for it.