Trump Admin Seeks Huge Investment in Border Wall, Cops, to Choke Off Illegal Immigration

DHS budget invests heavily in border security, officers, technology

The U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico
The U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico / Getty Images
May 23, 2017

The Trump administration is seeking to pump $44.1 billion into the Department of Homeland Security in a bid to increase the number of federal agents patrolling America's porous Southern border, according to a preview of the agency's 2018 budget request, which focuses on investments in advanced technology and human personnel.

President Donald Trump's budget request for DHS "makes significant, critical investments in people, technology, and infrastructure for border security and enforcement of immigration laws," according to an overview of the security department's fiscal year 2018 budget request.

The investment represents a multi-billion dollar increase above the Obama administration's final budget and puts a focus on securing America's southern border, which experienced some of the highest levels of illegal immigration in history under Obama.

Trump administration officials have said that the president's first budget reflects his commitment to border security and reversing Obama-era policies that loosened restrictions on immigration and contributed to an influx of illegal aliens at the U.S. southern border.

Senior DHS officials described the budget request as an "important downpayment on the administration's policies," particularly those aimed at sealing gaps across the souther border, where illegal immigration continues to take place largely unchecked.

DHS is seeking money for "major vessel and aircraft recapitalization for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to address ongoing maritime threats, including illegal alien and drug trafficking, before reaching our Nation's shores," according to the proposal.

Trump is also seeking $1.6 billion to construct 32 miles of new border wall, as well as "miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego sector, where apprehensions are the highest along the Southwest Border, and where a border wall system will deny access to drug and alien smuggling organizations," according to the proposal.

A major focus is being placed on training and hiring more federal authorities to patrol the southern border.

The administration is seeking to hire an additional 1,000 immigration enforcement officers and 500 Customs and Border Patrol agents (CBP), as is required under Trump's executive orders on immigration enforcement. The monetary request is about $30 million more than was allocated in 2017 by the Obama administration.

Another $100 million will be used to boost some 20,258 border patrol employees, including the 500 new CBP agents, according to the proposal.

"These new personnel will improve the integrity of the immigration system by adding capacity to interdict those aliens attempting to cross the border illegally," DHS said in its budget request.

An additional $185.9 will be spent to expand U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities, per requirements in the president's executive orders on immigration.

This will include the hiring of 850 new immigration officers, 150 criminal investigators, and 805 law enforcement staff, according to the proposal. The administration also is seeking to hire 125 new legal advisers to help the federal government prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.

To bolster the range of new hires, the administration is requesting nearly $976 million for "high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology improvements to provide a layered defense at the border," according to the proposal, which outlines new investments in surveillance technology and other equipment to help border agents detect and interdict illegals.

DHS is seeking $971 million to boost its cyber security efforts, which help guard critical U.S. infrastructure. A portion of these funds, around $279 million, would be used to invest in computer hardware and software to secure federal networks.

At the nation's airports, the Trump administration is seeking $3.1 million to support more than 43,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.

"Increased passenger volume and evolving threats to aviation security require an increase to TSA's frontline workforce at security checkpoints nationwide," DHS maintains in its budget request.

The administration also is seeking to boost the Secret Service's force size, requesting $1.3 billion to hire 436 new employees, bringing the total force size to 7,150.