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President Obama’s budget proposal ups money for immigration enforcement

President Obama’s 2012 Department of Homeland Security budget proposal favors immigration enforcement increases for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, aka ICE.

Customs and Border Protection would receive 21 percent of the proposed 2012 Homeland Security budget (a 3 percent increase), ICE 10 percent (a 1 percent increase) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 5 percent (a 5 percent drop).

According to the Immigration Policy Institute:

On the one hand, the budget increases funding for worthy causes such as immigrant integration, alternatives to detention, and civil-liberties oversight of enforcement programs.

On the other hand, these funding increases are dwarfed by the size of the budget for border and interior immigration enforcement. In other words, despite some good intentions, and an effort to balance the impact of enforcement programs, ultimately the budget reflects a commitment to the enforcement-without-reform policies that have failed so miserably over the past two decades.

The budget proposal supports the largest deployment of Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers in the agency’s history.

The enforcement and administration of federal immigration laws includes an increase for 3,300 detention beds, the Secure Communities program, the Visa Security program, worksite enforcement and E-Verify.

The 2012 budget proposal would allow Secure Communities — a controversial fingerprint-sharing program that checks detainees’ fingerprints against federal databases for criminal or immigration status violations — to expand to 96 percent of all U.S. jurisdictions. All 67 Florida counties are currently enrolled in Secure Communities.

While organizations like Floridians for Immigration Enforcement support the mandatory use of E-Verify, other organizations question the programs results.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, which would see a 5 percent cut in the 2012 budget, processes millions of immigration benefit applications every year.

The Homeland Security budget proposal explains that in 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Services completed more than 677,000 naturalization applications; processed 16.4 million queries through the E-Verify program, up from 8.7 million in fiscal year 2009; naturalized more than 11,000 military service members and qualified family members; interviewed nearly 95,000 refugee applicants from around the world; processed more than 28,000 asylum applications; and maintained an average processing time for naturalization applications of approximately 4.5 months.

Last week the Immigration Policy Institute and the National Immigration Forum released two reports that concluded that immigration enforcement expenditures over the last decade have increased, but have not diminished the dangers posed by drug trafficking and criminal organizations.

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