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The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader 
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Charles Schumer
Democratic Leader 
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, D.C. 20515 
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Chairman Richard Shelby
Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy
Committee on Appropriations
Room S- 128 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen 
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations 
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations 
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Re:      FY19 Continuing Resolution Must Not Allow for Expanded Immigration Detention                                               

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Lowey:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s appropriated budget for immigration detention and enforcement has jumped by nearly one billion dollars in the past two years, from $3.212 billion in fiscal year 2016 to $4.110 billion in fiscal year 2018.[1] DHS has achieved this massive increase through chronic fiscal mismanagement[2] and outright manipulation of the appropriations process.[3] Over the past two years DHS has persistently overspent its detention budget, confident that Congress will permit regular infusions of funds through reprogramming and transfers. By meeting this expectation, Congress has essentially given DHS the power to write its own appropriation by using its inflated detention budget as the starting point for each subsequent spending negotiation.

This cycle must end. In March, Congress funded Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to jail an average daily population of 40,500 individuals for fiscal year 2018; yet, as we approach the end of the year, ICE holds more than 45,000 individuals behind bars.[4] This growth represents a capacity to jail nearly 350,000 people each year.[5] And now DHS is angling to increase its detention budget above 2018 levels in a fiscal year 2019 Continuing Resolution, yet again ratcheting up its baseline funding in anticipation of subsequent negotiations over a final funding bill.

DHS’s manipulation of the appropriations process comes at a human cost that will haunt our nation for generations to come. As spending negotiations are underway, nearly 500 children torn from their parents as part of this administration’s zero tolerance policy remain in government custody, alone and scared.[6] ICE has continually proven to be incapable of providing for the basic health and safety of the people it jails each year—more than half of recently reviewed deaths in custody are attributable to medical failures, and sexual abuse is unchecked throughout ICE’s jails.[7] This summer, one-and-a-half-year old Mariee Juarez died shortly after her release from the South Texas Family Residential Center, and a complaint filed on her behalf asserts her death was a direct result of her time in ICE custody.[8] DHS’s own inspector general has raised serious concerns about the conditions inside ICE’s jails[9] and has found the system of inspections governing ICE’s jails to be a sham, with facilities regularly passing inspections despite significant deficiencies.[10] 

DHS must be held to account for its fiscally irresponsible actions which fuel a detention system that destroys lives and families every day. With each spending cycle we urge you to vigorously pursue cuts to immigration detention and enforcement funds. When negotiating a fiscal year 2019 Continuing Resolution, we urge you to explicitly preclude DHS from expending funds on detention above agreed-upon levels for fiscal year 2018.


National organizations:

America Solidaria U.S.

American Citizens for Justice/Asian American Center for Justice

American Civil Liberties Union

American Friends Service Committee

American Immigration Lawyers Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

America’s Voice

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Center for American Progress

Center for Employment Training

Center for Victims of Torture

Christian Community Development Association

Church World Service

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces


Detention Watch Network

Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)

Faith in Action

Faith in Public Life

Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)

Franciscan Action Network

Franciscan Sisters of the Poor

Free Migration Project

Freedom for Immigrants

Freedom Network USA

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends Meeting of Washington---Quaker

Gay Liberation Network

Grassroots Leadership

Human Rights Watch

Immigrant Defense Project

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy


InterReligious Task Force On Central America and Colombia

Jobs With Justice Education Fund

Justice Strategies

LA RED at Faith in Action

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Make the Road

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

Migrant Rights Collective


National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Jewish Women

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project of the NLG

National Justice for Our Neighbors

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Latina/o Psychological Association

National Organization for Women

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates

Physicians for Human Rights

Project On Government Oversight

Scalabrini International Migration Network

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters

Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southern Border Communities Coalition

Southern Poverty Law Center

Tahirih Justice Center

Transgender Law Center

TransLatin@ Coalition

T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)

United We Dream

Washington Office on Latin America

Women's Refugee Commission

State organizations:

Arizona Justice For Our Neighbors

Asian American Association of New Mexico

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)

Asian Services in Action, Inc.

Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC

Casa Esperanza

Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

DC-Maryland Justice for Our Neighbors

Faith in Indiana

Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.

FL Immigrant Coalition

Franciscans for Justice

Friends of Broward Detainees

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Kentucky Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Legal Aid Justice Center

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante

Missouri Faith Voices

Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates

National Lawyers Guild, Washington, D.C. Chapter

National Tongan American Society

New Mexico Immigrant Law Center

New York Immigration Coalition

NM Comunidades en Accion y de Fe (CAFe)

Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project


PICO California

Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

Rhode Island Jobs with Justice

Sisters of Charity of New York

Sisters of Mercy South Central Community

Sisters of St Francis, St. Francis Province

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project

Vermont Interfaith Action

Local organizations:

Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation

Adelante Alabama Worker Center

Asian American and Pacific Islander Committee

Asian Americans United

Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors

Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition

Central American Legal Assistance

Comunidades Unidas en una Voz (CUUV)


Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee-El Paso

Dominican Sisters-Grand Rapids

Dulles Justice Coalition

First Friends of New Jersey and New York

Florida Asian Services

Florida Chinese Federation

Frontera de Cristo

Greenburgh NY Human Rights Advisory Committee

Hilton Head for Peace

Immigrant Rights Clinic of Washington Square Legal Services

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA)

Inter-faith Coalition on Immigration, MN

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Justice Coordinating Commission of the Sisters I’d Providence

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Kino Border Initiative

Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance

Legal Services for Children

(LUPE) La Union del Pueblo Entero

Migrant Center for Human Rights

MinKwon Center for Community Action

Mujeres Latinas en Accion

New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA

NorCal Resist

North Bay Jobs with Justice

OCA South Florida Chapter

Orange County Congregation Community Organization

Pangea Legal Services

PASO- West Suburban Action Project

Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide

Public Counsel

Sacred Heart Community Service

Sanctuary DMV

Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)

Shalom Friends

Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

SOMOS Mayfair

St. Francis Community Services

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)

The Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center


Wilco Justice Allance (Williamson County, TX)




[1] See Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2018,; Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2017,; Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2016,

[2] See Government Accountability Office, Immigration Detention: Opportunities Exist to Improve Cost Estimates (April 2018), (finding ICE’s methods for estimating detention costs do not meet the “characteristics of a reliable cost estimate” and documenting ICE’s consistent pattern of reprogramming and transferring “millions of dollars into, out of, and within” its detention account).

[3] See Senate Report, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2019,  (expressing “persistent and growing concerns about ICE’s lack of fiscal discipline, whether real or manufactured, and its inability to manage detention resources within the appropriations made by law without the threat of anti-deficiency…”).

[4] See Committee on Appropriations--Democrats, FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act: Summary of Appropriations Provisions, (for information regarding the agreed upon ADP in the FY 2018 Omnibus); Geneva Sands, ABC News, “Immigration-related arrests by ICE increase under President Trump,” Apr. 17, 2017, (for fiscal year 2016 ADP).

[5] See Fiscal Year 2019 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Congressional Budget Justification, (for average length of stay data).

[6] Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, “Still separated: Nearly 500 migrant children taken from their parents remain in U.S. custody,” Aug. 23, 2018,

[7] See, e.g., Human Rights Watch et al., Code Red: the Fatal Consequences of Dangerously Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention (June 2018),; Alice Speri, The Intercept, “Detained then Violated: 1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Abuse in Immigration Detention,” Apr. 11, 2018,

[8] The Notice of Claim filed by Ms. Juarez against the city of Eloy, Arizona on August 28, 2018 is available online at

[9] DHS Office of Inspector General, OIG 18-32, Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities (December 2017),

[10] DHS Office of Inspector General, OIG 18-67, ICE’s Inspections and Monitoring of Detention Facilities Do Not Lead to Sustained Compliance or Systemic Improvements (June 2018),  

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