Rep Jimmy Panetta | On Customs & Border Protection (CPB) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding

Highlighted for your attention by the Members of Congress (MoC) Watchdog Issue Team:

Jimmy Panetta wrote this letter to our group in response to our question: Would he commit to voting no on any future spending bills unless spending for CBP and ICE is reduced?


Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20)
In response to question about future spending bills with funding for CBP and ICE:
I firmly stand against the Trump Administration’s abominable immigration policies and directives to carry out those policies for ICE and CBP. Those agencies act upon the orders of the Trump Administration, which has directed ICE and CBP to enforce the horrific “Zero Tolerance Policy” of separating families at the border and the unnecessary crack-down on crime-free immigrants who have contributed to our country, community, and culture. Although I cannot say whether I would support any future spending bills with funding for ICE and CBP, my past record clearly demonstrates that I am willing to stand up to the Trump Administration and any of its policies that are not in alignment with our Central Coast values on immigration.

Without any details to review and upon which to base my decision, I cannot say whether I would support any future bills that include the funding of ICE and CBP. However, my past voting record is evidence of my will to stand up to the Trump Administration’s policies that directly affect ICE and the CBP and our immigration policies. During my limited time in Congress, I have opposed the following legislation that funded CBP and ICE and failed to properly and timely address our immigration priorities:

  • Sept. 14, 2017 Minibus appropriations including Homeland Security Appropriations
  • The legislation includes $1.6 billion for physical barrier construction along the U.S. southern border and additional detention beds
  • Dec. 7, 2017 Extension of government funding for two weeks
  • Dec. 21, 2017 Extension of government funding for four weeks
  • Jan. 18, 2018 Extension of government funding for four weeks
  • Jan. 22, 2018 Extension of government funding for three weeks, ending the shutdown
    The two-day January 2018 shutdown occurred largely over an impasse on spending levels and legal protections to Dreamers. After the short-term spending bill to re-open the
    government passed
  • Feb. 6, 2018 Extension of government funding for six weeks
  • Feb. 9, 2018 Two-year budget bill
  • Mar. 22, 2018 Fiscal year appropriations bill

Beyond voting against those funding bills, I have taken the time to meet directly with the directors of ICE and CBP and other members of those agencies on multiple occasions. During those face to face meetings, I demanded greater transparency of the agencies, their leadership, and their policies that they are executing on the orders of the Trump Administration. I conveyed the importance of immigrants to our nation and the negative effects that the Trump Administration’s policies are having on immigrants and our community. Moreover, I went to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facility that housed some of the children that were separated from their families at the border. While there, I pressed Administration officials about any future reunification process for the children and their parents and demanded that they utilize their humanity and common sense when executing any directives from the Trump Administration.

In Washington, D.C., I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create legislation that stands up to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. I have introduced the following bills:

  • Introduced the Keep Families Together Act, to stop family separations at the border
  • Introduced Immigrant Witness and Victim Protection Act, to provide protections for immigrants seeking a U or T Visa and lifts the 10,000 cap on U Visas

I also cosponsored the following bills on immigration policy:

  • The Agricultural Worker Program Act (Blue Card), which provides path to citizenship for Agricultural workers
  • DREAM Act
  • American Hope Act of 2017, a bill to give those with DACA and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship.
  • BRIDGE Act, to establish a DACA-like program in the event President Trump eliminates the existing program through an executive order
  • American Promise Act, to provide a path to citizenship for TPS recipients
  • Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, to repeal mandatory detention for those awaiting immigration or asylum hearings, address substandard conditions at immigrant detention centers, and phase out the use of private detention facilities.
  • H.R. 2073 to prohibit immigration officers or agents of the Department of Homeland Security from wearing clothing or other items bearing the word `police’.
  • Community Trust Act to eliminate funding for Executive Order 13768, entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,”
    -This EO directed the administration to withhold federal grant funds that would have otherwise been awarded to jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with a federal immigration laws
  • Protecting Our Border Communities Act to eliminate funding for Executive Order 13767, entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” This EO directed a increase in border security, a physical barrier wall, and reforms to the asylum system
  • H.Res. 927 condemning the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy
  • SOLVE Act (1.0 and 2.0) to eliminate funding for President Trump’s Muslim ban executive orders

Moreover, I am not ambivalent when it comes to taking a stand and voting against legislation that supports the Trump Administration’s policies on immigration. Last week, the Republican majority put forward a resolution to support ICE as they carry out the policies of the Trump Administration. That legislation was brought to the floor for a vote in response to a bill to abolish ICE that was drafted by a
small number of Democratic members. The Republicans, who easily comprehend how politically detrimental an abolish ICE-type bill would be for many politically vulnerable Democrats across this country, came up with their own bill to support ICE. The Republicans then quickly brought their bill to a vote to hold all of the Democrats accountable for their position on ICE. The bill to support ICE passed with 226 Republicans and 18 Democrats voting “Yes.” Unfortunately, and disappointingly, 133 Democrats decided not to vote for or against the bill and voted “Present.” I, along with only 33 other
Democrats, took a stand and voted “No.” I voted against the resolution because although ICE and CBP play an important role of combatting narcotics and weapons smuggling and human trafficking, I firmly disagree with many of the immigration policies of the Trump Administration that those agencies are having to enforce. Moreover, I firmly believe that the constituents on the Central Coast deserve more than a Congressmember who is just “present.” You deserve unequivocal and unwavering representation when it comes to taking tough and principled votes, especially when it comes to challenging the Trump Administration’s policies on immigration.

As the grandson of immigrants and someone who grew up and lives on the Central Coast, I know that
our nation is enhanced and empowered by those who come here and contribute to our economy, communities, and culture. That is why I will continue to stand against the Trump Administration’s ill- conceived immigration policies and vindictive directives for ICE and CBP. Furthermore, and at any chance I get, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to reform our outdated immigration system. My past work and voting record prove that I will continue to fight against the Trump Administration and vote against any bills that do not properly and reasonably reflect our Central Coast values when it comes to our nation’s immigration policies.