Today, House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff released an analysis of President’s Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement concerning the proposed budget:
“President Trump’s budget is weak on crime, is anti-immigrant, and undermines civil rights, legal services and critical regulatory protections. The President’s harsh immigration priorities laid out in this budget belie our heritage as a nation of immigrants. Reducing resources for vital programs such as COPS, gun violence prevention, Second Chance and juvenile programs will not reduce crime, and will actually make our citizens less safe. And by weakening civil rights enforcement and regulatory protections, the Trump Administration is undermining the health and safety of all Americans. This budget is not who we are as a people and does not reflect our values or principles.”
The Trump Budget undercuts critical efforts to keep our streets safe by reducing the commitment to add police officers to our streets, prevent gun violence, prevent opioid abuse, prevent those incarcerated from re-offending, and guide young people toward productive lives. This budget proposal does not adequately invest money in programs that not only keep us safer, but are cost-effective by reducing demands placed on our criminal justice system.
- COPS Program: At a time when local law enforcement budgets are stretched, the President proposes to slash assistance for the hiring of police officers by nearly 40% to $99 million and to eliminate the currently separate COPS Office—a critical advocate for community policing and providing assistance to those on the front lines of protecting our communities.
- Gun Violence Prevention: The shooting death of 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas last year by a man whose criminal history record should have been—but was not—reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) highlighted the need to ensure all relevant records are reported. Unfortunately, the President’s budget proposes a reduction in funding from nearly $25 million to $10 million for the NICS Act Record Improvement Program, which was established in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, to help fill dangerous gaps in the system.
- Opioid Epidemic: To fight the opioid epidemic, we need to invest more resources in preventing the abuse of these drugs and treating those who are addicted. This is not reflected in the budget for the Department of Justice, which provides over $2 billion in discretionary resources for the DEA, including an additional $41 million for enforcement efforts—vastly outweighing funding for prevention and treatment.
- Second Chance Act: The Second Chance Act is a longstanding, bipartisan program to help states better prepare those who have served their sentences successfully re-enter their communities and avoid recidivism. Unfortunately, the President’s budget would reduce funding for this program, which is critical to public safety, from over $67 million to $58 million.
- Juvenile Programs: Youth Mentoring Programs reduce drug use, aggression, depressive symptoms, and delinquent acts, and yet the President’s budget reduces funding by more than $20 million to $58 million for this proven means of helping young people and their communities.
While slashing critical federal programs, the Trump Budget would fund his ill-advised border wall and further fuel his mass deportation agenda. In total, the budget dramatically increases spending on immigration enforcement by over $4 billion. Rather than work to fix our immigration system and keep families together, this budget would ramp up fear in immigrant communities and tear families apart.
· Border Wall: Some $1.6 billion of this would be drained into an unnecessary and ineffective border wall, despite Trump’s many promises that Mexico would foot the bill.
· Deportation Force: More than $2 billion would be used to drastically increase ICE enforcement personnel and detention capacity, delivering on his promised ‘deportation force’ to further arrest, detain and deport our neighbors, our friends, and our family.
- ICE: Increases spending on interior enforcement by more than $2 billion.
- FY 2017 enacted: $6.708 billion
- FY 2019 request: $8.817 billion
- This increase would accelerate President Trump’s deportation agenda, including by:
- Greatly increasing ICE enforcement personnel (2,000 officers and 1,312 support personnel)
- Ramping up the number of detention beds (52,000 beds requested vs. 38,000 beds actual)
- CBP: Increases spending on border enforcement by more than $2 billion.
- FY 2017 enacted: $14.330 billion
- FY 2019 request: $16.690 billion
- Among other things, this increase would:
- Fund the beginning of President Trump’s border wall (65 miles of border wall system in southern Texas)
- Increase the number of Border Patrol personnel (750 new Border Patrol agents and 153 mission support personnel)
- USCIS: Increases spending by $541 million, part of which would supplement ICE interior enforcement.
- FY 2017 enacted: $4.179 billion (mostly from user fees)
- FY 2019 request: $4.720 billion (mostly from user fees)
- Among other things, this increase would:
- For the first time ever, take user fees from individuals seeking immigration benefits (e.g. sponsorship of family members or employees) and transfer $208 million to ICE for immigration enforcement
- Expand E-Verify capacity
CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS
The elimination of the Community Relations Service (“CRS”) as a separate entity in the President’s FY 2019 Budget signals a retreat from the vision of the Civil Rights Act. CRS was created to provide the Department of Justice with a regional presence for easing tensions in communities struggling with the nation’s march toward equal rights and the end of segregation. The role of CRS has evolved to address the full range of equality issues facing the nation, most recent in the area of hate crimes. Independence from the Department’s prosecutorial and enforcement roles has been a key factor in CRS’s success in acting as honest broker of local disputes. Eliminating its independent charter, and subsuming its role into the Civil Rights Division, threatens the Department’s ability to act as a unbiased conciliator. At a time of growing division within the nation, eliminating its historic peacekeeper agency send a troubling signal.
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION
Eliminates bipartisan program: Like the Trump Budget last year, the Trump 2019 Budget again seeks to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a program that for more than 40 years, with bipartisan support, has provided civil legal representation of hundreds of thousands of Americans in every county in every state and the territories.
- Slashes funding by $369 million; allows only $18.2 million to be solely used to close down operations.
- FY 2017 enacted: $387 million
- FY 2019 request: $18.2 million
- Ignores LSC’s 2019 budget request for $564.8 million (which reflects an increase of $37 million over last year’s request of $527.8 million). This funding is essential to enabling LSC to fulfill its mission to fund the essential, day-to-day operations in 133 civil legal aid organizations across the country.
· Harms victims of domestic abuse, families, and veterans: By eliminating LSC funding, the Trump Budget would harm America's most vulnerable: women struggling to escape domestic abuse, families facing foreclosure and eviction, and veterans trying to obtain promised benefits.
· Widens the “Justice Gap:” More than 58 million Americans, or nearly 19% of the U.S. population, currently qualify for legal assistance from LSC-funded programs. Based on a new study in 2017, 86% of the civil legal problems of low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help in the past year. The “justice gap” is the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.
- Ignores support from businesses: Business leaders, including lawyers representing the largest companies in America, private law firms, state attorneys general, and state court chief justices support robust funding for LSC.
- Limits individuals access to the courts: Investment in civil legal aid is one of the most effective ways to help Americans navigate the justice system. Funding for legal aid promotes individual empowerment and self-reliance by giving people the tools and knowledge to access the civil court system to protect and exercise their rights.
- Reckless cuts endangers health and safety: Trump claims in his Budget that he “will continue to relentlessly target unnecessary regulations for elimination.” In fact, the Trump Budget proposes reckless cuts to critical regulatory protections that ensure the safety, health, and financial security of working Americans.
- Handout to corporate polluters and white-collar criminals: Based on the mythology that cutting these protections and defunding agencies will promote growth, President Trump’s proposed budget is a handout to corporate polluters and white-collar criminals.