EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Migrant advocates on Thursday made a last-minute appeal for President Biden to take money earmarked for immigration enforcement and spend it on education and health care instead.

“I call on the president to put forward a compassionate budget, one that affirms the dignity and humanity of our immigrant neighbors,” said U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts. “A budget should be a reflection of our values. Under the last administration, continued and increased funding to unaccountable, harmful and rogue agencies like ICE and CBP exacted a long-lasting hurt and harm on our communities.”

Biden is expected to unveil a $6 trillion budget Friday that includes $52 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. The budget includes $1.2 billion to upgrade ports of entry and for surveillance technology at the border.

Members of the “Defund Hate Coalition” said the president’s budget is not in line with his campaign promise to bring about a more compassionate immigration system and advance equity in America.

This screenshot from a Zoom conference shows U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, who urged President Biden to cut funding for immigration enforcement and detention.

“The Defund Hate Coalition expects to see greater investment in community resources that exist outside of ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) matched with bold reductions in funding to detain individuals, ending family detention, providing reparations for border communities, restricting harmful border surveillance technology” and providing counsel for detained individuals, said Cynthia Garcia, United We Dream national campaign manager for community protection.

Advocates said they’re disappointed Biden’s budget outline keeps the DHS budget essentially the same at Donald Trump’s last fiscal plan in office, though it includes more money for oversight.

They’re also concerned at an increase in migrant detentions since Biden took over.

“News that the number of people in ICE detention is still rapidly increasing (are) extremely alarmingly. Despite promises made by President Biden to end the use of private prisons for ICE detention and fight for facial equity in this country, Detention Watch Network remains deeply concerned that this administration is following suit on its predecessors by continuing to rely on the inherently flawed and at times deadly immigration detention system to respond to migration and asylum needs,” said Gabriela Viera, advocacy manager for DWN.

She said the group has kept track of double-digit increases in the number of detained migrants since January. That includes a recent spike to 2,000 people per week.

Pressley said she’s still shocked by conditions at detention centers that she witnessed during a trip to the border in 2019. She said that included overcrowded facilities and

“What our nation has done to our immigrant families and continues to do to this day is cruel and immoral and ICE and CBP have been front and center in inflicting this hurt,” the congresswoman said. “But it doesn’t need to be this way. President Biden can and should reverse this by pursuing policies and budgets that stop the criminalization of our immigrant neighbors and affirm the dignity and humanity of all people, regardless of immigration status.”

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