Posted by Ryan Suto on June 13, 2017 in Blog
Today’s Department of Justice (DOJ) budget hearing was originally scheduled for May 25 but was postponed to today due to a scheduling conflict. It will also occur without Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who did not want to address aspects of the Russia investigation before Senate or House Appropriations members. He will instead be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. While not receiving as much media attention as other policy proposals of the Trump Administration, the budget itself reflects the broad philosophy of the administration by increasing funds for law enforcement and less funding for legal protections.
While the overall budget represents a decrease of $1.1 billion from the previous year, the budget does include select increases. The Administration seeks to add 75 new immigration judges, 60 new border prosecutors, and 300 new assistant US attorneys to the payroll. These increases signify the desire to increase prosecution of immigrants and those attempting to cross the US border, despite the country seeing immigration decreases well before Trump took the oath of office and appointed Jeff Sessions to head the DOJ.
More important than the specific funding levels, however, are the policy implications of the budget proposal. For example, under this budget, the DOJ can withhold typical funding for municipalities which refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities, called “sanctuary cities.” This policy is aimed at quashing local attempts to bar officer cooperation with federal deportation goals. This is the latest pull in the ongoing jurisdictional tug of war between municipalities and states and federal government.
The budget further provides for no increase in funding for the Civil Rights Division, despite a sharp rise in hate crimes across the country over the past year. Combined with increases in US minority populations, inflation, and operational costs, and this amounts to decreased resources and fewer protections for the Americans who need it most.
Viewed in the context of the Administration’s broader silence after attacks on ethnic and religious minorities and Trump’s marginalization of groups such as Muslims and Mexicans, this DOJ budget shows a disregard of the needs of the diverse communities which comprise this country.