Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's deputy web editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
President Barack Obama is seeking $39.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security for immigration, border security and emergency preparedness. That amount is slightly less than the $39.6 billion requested in FY12.
In the fiscal year 2013 federal budget proposal released Monday, the Obama administration proposed pouring $500 million more into state and local governments this fiscal year, but also wants to make sure they spend what has already given them.
Obama is also calling for $132 million – roughly the same as FY 12 – for programs that keep illegal immigrants out of the workforce and off public-assistance rolls. E-Verify Self Check allows employers to check their employees’ immigration status and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) lets state and local agencies check people’s status to ensure they’re eligible for government benefits.
The president, however, also called on the divided Congress to give $11 million to programs that help immigrants integrate into American society. The administration wants to expand programs to help immigrants learn English, attain an education and become citizens.
The president’s budget calls for the creation of a National Preparedness Grant Program, which would consolidate all duplicative, stand-alone grants and ensure that recipients are using the money wisely and quickly. State and local stakeholders already have $9 billion of unused grants, which Obama wants to be spent as soon as possible. To push grantees to spend their money, the administration will waive some grant requirements and give all grants an expiration date. The administration will also propose regulations to reform the grants process.
Despite the president’s call for states and localities to receive $500 million in funding for state and local assistance more this year, it’s unlikely they will actually see the increase. “Those programs are in pretty much the same boat as justice assistance programs,” which James Pasco, the Executive Director for the National Fraternal Order of Police, told Governing are likely to be in extreme jeopardy once Congress gets their hands on them. “We will have to fight very hard to retain all the large portion of that requests.”
In terms of security, the Obama administration wants to spend $769 million to protect the nation from cyber threats and $650 million to prevent and confront homeland security threats -- both of which states and localities will benefit.
The administration is also seeking to essentially maintain the amount of money spent on border security and the number of Border Patrol agents. The president also wants to spend $2.9 billion to increase the nation’s number of first responders. Obama called for $1 billion to immediately employ firefighters and will give more money to departments that hire post-9/11 veterans.
There were a record 99 declarations of federal disaster by states in 2011, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Obama wants to put $6.1 billion – approximately $1 billion less than last fiscal year – into the Disaster Relief Fund, which helps states and localities prevent, respond to and recover from catastrophes like floods and tornadoes.