Congress Boosts Funds for Heroin, Immigration Judges

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The budget deal that keeps the federal government running through September 30 provides increases for several anticrime programs, particularly in the anti-drug and immigration enforcement areas. It includes $8.8 billion for the FBI, an increase of $277 million over last year. The House Appropriations Committee says increases are “targeted to anti-cybercrime, counterintelligence, anti-violent crime, and counterterrorism programs.” The law provides $420 million for “critical infrastructure projects.” The Drug Enforcement Administration gets $2.1 billion, $23 million above 2016. Congress gave the DEA $12.5 million for four new enforcement groups to target growing heroin abuse and availability in the U.S. Also in the new law is $383 million for the Diversion Control Program (an $11 million increase) and $517 million for the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces (a $5 million increase).

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) gets $1.3 billion, a $19 million increase. Congressional Republicans say the law continues “to protect the Second Amendment rights of all Americans, including prohibitions on ‘gun-walking, such as the disastrous ‘Fast and Furious’ operation.” The bill includes $1.5 billion for short-term detention space to hold federal detainees, consistent with President Trump’s initial budget request for next year. It includes 10 additional immigration judge teams to process immigration reviews more quickly, and reduce the backlog of pending cases. Congress provided $2.4 billion in grants to support law enforcement and victims of crime. More money goes to violence against women programs ($481.5 million) and Byrne Justice Assistance Grants ($403 million). The bill includes $22.5 million in grants for armored police vests. The law maintains funding for other key programs, including the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program ($210 million), Adam Walsh Act grants ($20 million), National Instant Criminal System background check grants ($73 million), DNA Initiative grants ($125 million), the Reduce Sexual Assault Kits Backlog grants ($45 million), Second Chance Act grants ($68 million), and Missing and Exploited Children grants ($72.5 million). Congress eliminated $113 million in what Republican appropriations leaders called lower-priority or duplicative grant programs.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report.

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