Under Pressure From Hagerty, Mayorkas Defends Biden Request to Defund ICE

November 8, 2023

Provision was part of White House supplemental budget request in August and, following criticism, secretly resubmitted in October

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today in a hearing pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on his department’s request to grant DHS the authority to defund U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s entire $8+ billion budget and use it to transport and house migrants in American communities, which would turn America’s premier immigration enforcement agency into a migrant resettlement and travel operation. This provision was originally included in the Biden Administration’s emergency supplemental budget request to Congress on August 10, but after Hagerty exposed it, the Biden White House removed it from its latest public request, instead transmitting it to Congress in a non-public email.

“This is a breathtaking proposal that basically requests the authority for DHS to reprogram any amounts, any and all future amounts of ICE funding, the ability to redirect that funding in its entirety,” Hagerty said. “Mr. Secretary, are you still requesting this [provision]?” Hagerty asked.

Mayorkas initially denied that the provision defunds ICE, but later stated that he “would want to read [the provision] carefully and in the context,” apparently unaware of the details of his request that was the subject of the hearing.

“What this asks for is the authority to reprogram that budget to defund ICE and take those funds and use them for a variety of things, including giving them to non-governmental organizations…You have the ability to reprogram ICE and turn it into a travel agency that brings illegal immigrants here and sends them to hotels in New York City; you’re going to turn this into an electromagnet if we were to [grant] you this authority,” Hagerty continued.

Mayorkas repeatedly denied that the provision allows DHS to defund ICE, despite its plain and unlimited language that would grant DHS the authority to do so.

“You’re not backing away from this request. I’m not talking about the non-custodial services. I’m talking about your request to defund ICE up to the entirety of their budget, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop that from happening,” Hagerty concluded.

*Click the photo above or here to watch*