President Joe Biden proposed the second budget of his term today, a $5.8 trillion request to Congress containing $56.7 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and $1.4 billion for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) immigration courts.
The proposed 2023 Budget reflects the administration’s priorities for the coming year, covering funding allocation requests for all 15 executive departments and their sub-agencies. The funding request for DHS is roughly a 5% increase over the enacted spending level for 2021.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, a component of DHS, received a 700% increase over the 2021 spending level, at $904 million. Of that request, the administration has requested $765 million specifically for caseload and backlog reductions. The discretionary funding is intended to decrease rising asylum backlogs, improve refugee processing, and to address the historic backlog of applications for work authorization, naturalization, green cards, and other immigration benefits.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), another component of DHS, will receive 13% more funding than 2021, with the administration’s request of $15.3 billion to hire an additional 300 Border Patrol agents and 300 officials to process the paperwork and applications of undocumented people entering the country at the southwest border. The budget prioritizes improvements to border processing and management, with funding earmarked to “enforce immigration law, further secure U.S. borders and ports of entry, and effectively manage irregular migration along the Southwest border.” The budget requests $309 million in modern border security technology and $494 million for “noncitizen processing and care costs.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, will receive 8% less than the enacted funding in 2021, though the $8.1 billion dollar request does include $3.8 billion for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, and $527 million dollars for alternatives to detention programs. Notably, the budget proposal included a request for fewer detention beds.
DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, with more than 250,000 employees across 20 components, including immigration agencies such as USCIS, ICE, and CBP, as well as other agencies tasked with critical national security tasks, such as the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
In keeping with DHS’s broad range of responsibilities, the President’s 2023 budget proposal also requests increased funding for federal cybersecurity and critical infrastructure security, natural disaster preparedness and resilience, expanding the U.S. Coast Guard’s capabilities, modernizing the TSA’s pay and workforce policies, and upgrading and investing in federal research laboratory infrastructure.
Beyond DHS, the White House also requested funding for other departments who handle immigration issues.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) contains the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which houses the immigration courts. The proposed 2023 budget increases the funding level for EOIR by $621 million from the 2021 enacted level to $1.4 billion. This money is intended to address the backlog currently standing at 1.6 million pending cases, including the hiring of 100 new immigration judges, and $150 million to invest in legal access programs for adults and families in immigration proceedings.
A proposed $4.5 billion in mandatory resources were also proposed in an effort to expand the legal access programming over a 10-year period, in an effort to create “greater efficiencies in processing cases while making the system fairer and more equitable.”
The proposed budget also provides $6.3 billion to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The refugee program was largely dismantled during the prior administration, and Biden has requested funding to rebuild the refugee resettlement infrastructure. The Biden administration has set the nation’s refugee resettlement cap at 125,000 for 2023.
The administration also intends that funding or ORR would be used to help unaccompanied children be quickly reunited with relatives or sponsors as safely as possible, or otherwise be adequately and appropriately cared for in ORR custody.