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Biden seeks federal hiring surge in new $100B emergency funding request

President Biden is requesting funding for a hiring surge at the Homeland Security Department and other immigration-related agencies, sending the ask as part of a larger $106 billion emergency spending package that would primarily support foreign allies. 

The White House is seeking $13.6 billion to hire nearly 6,000 employees at DHS and the Justice Department, saying the resources are necessary to keep the Southwest border secure and restrict the flow of fentanyl into the county. The ask marks a significantly ramped up approach from the Biden administration, which has previously pushed for smaller increases to its immigration and border security workforce. 

Under the request, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would gain 1,600 new asylum officers, Border Patrol would net 1,300 new agents, Customs and Border Protection would see 1,000 new officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would add 1,470 attorneys. The latter hiring would accompany 375 immigration judges within Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review and support staff for each of them. All told in the president’s immigration and border security request, Biden is seeking about $8.7 billion for DHS, $1.7 billion for Justice and $3 billion spread between the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and State, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said congressional Republicans need to “stop playing games” and give the administration what it needs to confront the challenge at the border. An August request from the White House for $4 billion for border security has gone unfulfilled. 

“We will not be lectured by those who refuse to act,” Young said. “As we’ve said repeatedly, Congress needs to take action to provide sufficient resources for the border.” 

After trending down earlier this year, encounters of migrants illegally crossing the border by federal personnel have spiked since July. In a statement, DHS added that it has deployed personnel to the border and expanded lawful pathways for immigrants to enter the country but still lacks what it needs to handle and process migrants. 

“Progress has been made, but more funding is required to manage the unprecedented flow of hemispheric migration and to increase our efforts to combat the transnational criminal organizations ruthlessly trafficking fentanyl and other deadly opiates,” the department said. 

The package faces a daunting challenge in Congress, both for its overall size and given the lack of a speaker in the House. Without such a leader, the chamber is unable to move any legislation. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Republican nominee for speaker, failed in a third straight vote on the speakership on Friday and the conference has yet to announce any plans for resolving the deadlock. 

Filling Biden’s request would also prove operationally challenging, as DHS components have for a decade struggled to hire to their authorized levels. The asylum officer and ICE attorney plans would more than double those workforces. 

In addition to the immigration and border security funding, Biden is asking for $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, $14 billion in aid for Israel, $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for Israel, Gaza and others and $4 billion for security assistance in the Indo-Pacific and other efforts to dissuade countries from working with China. 

“It’s a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations, help us keep American troops out of harm’s way, help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren,” Biden said in a national address on Thursday evening.

source: NextGov