Biden wants money to probe white supremacist thinking at immigration agencies
WASHINGTON -President Joe Biden is calling for funding to investigate complaints of white supremacist beliefs at U.S. immigration enforcement agencies, according to a summary of his budget request for the coming fiscal year released on Friday.
The Biden administration is asking Congress to increase the funding level for workforce oversight offices within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to $470 million, a 22% increase over the current level.
The additional funding would ensure that workforce complaints – “including those related to white supremacy or ideological and non-ideological beliefs” – are investigated quickly, according to a summary of Biden’s budget proposal.
It was not immediately clear whether any specific incidents sparked the call for the increased funding. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Biden administration has made battling domestic extremism a priority. An October 2020 DHS report said domestic violent extremists, including white supremacist extremists, pose “the most persistent and lethal threat” to the United States.
Border patrol agents faced scrutiny in 2019 when media outlets exposed racist and misogynistic comments posted to a private Facebook group for current and former agents. Posts included jokes about the deaths of migrants and sexually explicit comments referring to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat like Biden.
Biden’s Republican predecessor in the White House, Donald Trump, faced criticism at times for failing to condemn racist views, including after clashes in Virginia in 2017 between white nationalist protesters and counter-demonstrators when Trump said “both sides” were to blame.
The stance led to broad criticism and a year later, Trump said he condemned “all types of racism and acts of violence.”
The U.S. military is also trying to address the issue of white nationalism and other extremism in its ranks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is under pressure to show progress fighting extremism after current and former military service members were found to have participated in a Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The White House budget proposal is a request of Congress to provide funding in fiscal year 2022, which begins on Oct. 1, 2021. The document reflects Biden’s position on the spending, which will ultimately need to be appropriated by Congress.