The Trump administration is considering deep cuts in the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it looks for money to ratchet up security along the southern border, reports the New York Times. The goal is to shift $5 billion toward hiring more agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as toward infrastructure to support a crackdown on illegal immigration at the border. A significant portion of the money would go toward erecting a wall along the border with Mexico, a signature Trump’s campaign promise.
To fund those efforts, the plan would seek significant reductions in other areas, including a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget and 11 percent cuts to both TSA and FEMA. The three agencies have played high-profile roles in the Department of Homeland Security’s post-Sept. 11 security architecture. The plan would increase the department’s budget by 6.4 percent, to $43.8 billion, for the 2018 fiscal year, also using savings from other executive branch departments to fund it. Lawmakers in both parties vowed to scrutinize and perhaps oppose a slew of potential cuts they argued would not only expose new weaknesses but also undermine Trump’s own strongly stated goals of curtailing terrorism, narcotics and illegal immigration. “It’s a little bit like putting an extra lock on the front door and none on the back door,” said Michael Chertoff, who led the Homeland Security Department for four years. “You are not really protecting the house.”