Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff released an analysis of President Trump's proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement concerning the proposed budget:
“Like previous years, President Trump’s budget proposal is an affront to American values. The President’s harsh anti-immigrant priorities laid out in this budget – including the transfer of roughly $2 billion of taxpayer funds for his unnecessary border wall – would cause irreparable damage to communities across the country. Cutting resources from programs that support community-oriented policing, combat the gun violence epidemic, and protect individuals from domestic violence will make Americans less safe. This budget demonstrates, once again, just how little regard the Trump Administration has for our nation’s principles.”
The Trump Budget undermines critical programs that have been developed to enhance public safety.
- Police Officers and the COPS Program: The President’s proposed budget yet again seeks to eliminate the Community Oriented Policing Service Office (COPS Office) and dramatically reduces by more than $130 million dollars federal support to local governments to hire new police officers. The proposed reduction means fewer local police officers on the beat and would put public safety at risk. The President’s budget also cuts $3 million from the $5 million directed at promoting officer mental health through the VALOR program.
- Violence Against Women: The Office on Violence Against Women administers programs to assist individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence throughout this country. In spite of the need to maintain our commitment to preventing such violence and helping victims and survivors, funding for these grant programs would decrease by $4 million.
- Violence in Our Communities: Funding community-based violence prevention and intervention programs are proven to interrupt cycles of violence in the areas hardest hit by gun violence and help to uplift communities. The budget would cut $8 million from community-based violence prevention programs and instead double the Public Safety Partnership, a prosecution-focused effort that fails to engage the communities wrought with violence, to $40 million. This proposal undermines the proactive community-based approach, focusing on incarceration rather than prevention programs.
- Domestic Terrorism: In the last year, we have seen a deluge of racially motivated and anti-semitic attacks. Reducing funding by $4 million and outsourcing research on domestic terrorism ignores the threat of white supremacy and domestic violence.
- Opioid Epidemic: In 2016, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) as a bipartisan effort to compact the opioid epidemic in our country. The proposed budget would cut funding for DOJ CARA funding by $26 million. These funds are critical lifelines to rural communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic.
- Reducing Recidivism: 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. The President’s budget proposes cutting funding for this program, which is critical to public safety, by $2.5 million. Also, the budget would reduce funding by $1 million for the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, which is essential to helping treat state inmates who suffer from drug addiction.
- Juvenile Justice Issues: By cutting $2,000,000 from the budget, the President deprives vulnerable youth of critical tools of appropriate representation. The President’s budget cuts $95 million for programs administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This includes reducing funding for delinquency prevention by $25 million and slashing Youth Mentoring Programs, which address drug use, depressive symptoms, and delinquent acts by more than half. Also, the President’s budget eliminates the grant program providing funds to defense for juveniles, who require specialized criminal defense support.
- Innocence Issues: Our criminal justice system must achieve greater fairness, and the President’s budget undermines our efforts to provide relief for those wrongfully convicted by cutting the Capital Litigation Review Program by $2.5 million and reducing the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Program by $3 million. The budget would also cut important funding for our nation’s crime labs by $20 million.
As with past budget requests, the Trump Budget slashes critical federal programs while further diverting taxpayer funds to grow his mass deportation agenda and expand his ill-advised border wall. In total, the budget dramatically increases spending on immigration enforcement by over $3 billion. It also pours hundreds of millions into dangerous, legally dubious programs such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Rather than work to fix our immigration system and keep families together, this budget is designed to accelerate deportations, break up families, and stoke fear in immigrant communities.
- Border Wall: Some $2 billion in taxpayer funds would be drained into an unnecessary and ineffective border wall, despite Trump’s many promises that Mexico would foot the bill.
- Deportation Force: An increase of more than $2 billion would be used to drastically increase ICE enforcement personnel and detention capacity, delivering on Trump’s promised ‘deportation force’ to further arrest, detain and deport our families, friends, and neighbors.
- ICE: Increases spending on interior enforcement and the “Remain in Mexico” policy by more than $2 billion.
- FY 2020 enacted: $8.39 billion
- FY 2021 request: $10.42 billion
- This increase would accelerate President Trump’s deportation agenda, including by:
- Greatly increasing ICE enforcement personnel (more than 2,800 new ICE enforcement officers and nearly 1,800 support personnel)
- Further increasing the number of detention beds to historic highs (60,000 beds requested vs. 45,000 beds actual)
- Demanding $126 million to fund tent courts
- CBP: Increases spending on border enforcement by more than $1.2 billion.
- FY 2020 enacted: $16.99 billion
- FY 2019 request: $18.21 billion
- Among other things, this increase would:
- Dedicate an additional $2 billion to expand President Trump’s border wall (82 miles of border wall system)
- Increase the number of Border Patrol personnel (750 new Border Patrol agents and 126 associated support personnel)
- USCIS: Reduces spending but proposes to increase ICE enforcement budget by using immigration fees that should go to improving USCIS services.
- FY 2020 enacted: $4.08 billion (mostly from user fees)
- FY 2021 request: $4.075 billion (mostly from user fees)
- Among other things, the budget:
- Would take $112 million in user fees from individuals seeking immigration benefits to further fund ICE immigration enforcement, even after Congress expressly prohibited such transfers
- Proposes no improvement to agency efficiency, even though USCIS is facing historic backlogs and recently proposed to increase user fees from individuals seeking immigration benefits (e.g. sponsorship of family members or employees) by 21%
CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS
As he has in past years, President Trump once again proposes to eliminate the Community Relations Service (“CRS”) as a separate entity in his FY 2021 Budget, signaling 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 recently 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 an unbiased conciliator.
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION
Like the Trump Budget last year, the Trump 2021 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 $422 million; allows only $18 million to be solely used to close down operations.
- FY 2017 enacted: $387 million
- FY 2020 enacted: $440 million
- Ignores LSC’s 2021 budget request for $608.8 million (which reflects an increase of $52.6 million over last year’s request of $556.2 million). This funding is essential to enabling LSC to fulfill its mission to fund the essential, day-to-day operations in 132 civil legal aid organizations across the country. Investment in civil legal aid is one of the most effective ways to help Americans navigate the justice system and exercise their rights.
The Trump Budget eliminating the Legal Services Corporation:
- 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”: The “justice gap” is the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs. An estimated 57.3 million Americans currently qualify for legal assistance from LSC-funded programs.
- Ignores widespread support: 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.