Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that US Border Patrol agents and immigration officials are likely to exceed their budget very soon if the mass influx into the United States of young immigrants from Central America continues. Johnson says that the tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minors arriving at the US border have driven up overtime, transportation and detention costs to a point that is now unsustainable and has left legislators and officials scrambling to react.
Johnson’s timeline left little room for ambiguity, declaring that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will run out of money early in the fall and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is likely to do so even sooner. “At the current burn rate, ICE is going to run out of money at mid-August and we predict CBP will run out of money in mid-September,” Johnson informed the committee.
The announcement was made at the same time as Congress was asked by President Obama to approve emergency funding to the tune of $3.7bn to help deal with the continuing arrival of unaccompanied immigrant minors. Over 57,000 minors have been taken into custody after crossing the border since last September; this number is expected to increase to more than 90,000 by the end of 2014.
Johnson strongly urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to give its approval to the budget, suggesting that not to do so would cause massive repercussions far beyond any fiscal issues generated by approving it.