- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2019

An influential group of immigration activists lashed out at Democrats on Thursday, saying the party’s new border security plan is still too cruel toward illegal immigrants and should instead focus on granting citizenship rights.

United We Dream, which represents illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” complained in particular about Democrats’ plans to boost the number of agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying it means sending “even more cash to the deportation force.”

“With 15,000 children locked in cages right now, deaths in detention camps, families being ripped apart every day and the eyes of the world watching for leadership, this ‘not as bad as the Republican’ plan is malpractice,” said Cristina Jimenez, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream.

SEE ALSO: Trump says Nancy Pelosi is ‘playing games’ with wall funding

She said Democrats have for years voted in favor of spending bills that boosted border security and immigration enforcement, and she said it’s time to reverse that and begin to cut from ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

House Democrats’ new plan, unveiled Wednesday and Thursday, would in fact slash the number of illegal immigrants that can be held for deportation, from about 45,000 now down to about 35,000.

It would also propose limiting the number of people who can be arrested and held from the interior of the U.S., and it would end the detention of illegal immigrant families altogether by 2020.

SEE ALSO: Nancy Pelosi is adamant: No money for border wall in spending legislation

But Democrats said they would add new Homeland Security Investigation agents to ICE’s ranks and would also boost customs officers managing the ports of entry.

Overall, the Democratic plan would boost ICE funding by $369 million over last year, to $7.4 billion, and boost CBP by $278 million, to $14.3 billion.

The CBP figure is higher than President Trump requested last year — though it is well short of his updated request with $5.7 billion in border wall money included. Democrats’ ICE number is lower than what Mr. Trump asked for.

House Democrats’ plan envisions no extra money for additional border patrol agents. A six-page summary of the plan said a model to justify any increase is “long overdue.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said there will be no wall money in the homeland security funding legislation, though she did leave the door open for some money for fencing.

Mr. Trump said Mrs. Pelosi was playing games and that he didn’t expect negotiators to ultimately strike a deal on wall funding.

The federal government faces the prospect of another partial shutdown if lawmakers don’t come to an agreement by Feb. 15.

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