Local News

ICE executive questions government funding

Posted July 25, 2008 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2008 6:28 a.m. EDT

— An executive with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expressed concern this week about government’s funding to enforce immigration laws.

ICE Executive Director Jim Pendergraph said a lack of funding from lawmakers is putting the country at risk.

U.S. Rep. David Price, (D-NC), Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, responded to Pendergraph’s allegations on Friday, saying the ICE program has plenty of money to go after illegal immigrants.

“He simply is not stating the facts,” Price said.

Pendergraph also complained of a lack of money for illegal immigration enforcement in the workplace and a lack of funding for the 287(g) program that checks the legal status of a person only after they have been arrested.

Pendergraph said the 287(g) program was helpful when he was sheriff in Mecklenburg County.

"We found an individual who had been ... removed from the country 22 times and he was caught in Charlotte, North Carolina , with a traffic violation,” Pendergraph said.

Price said a 2009 House appropriation provides $39.7 million – the same amount as the previous year – for the 287(g) program.

The appropriation also provides $12 million more than requested to strengthen ICE’s anti-gang task forces and more than $1 million more than requested for customs and trade investigations, including counter-drug smuggling and anti-pornography investigations. The bill also funds the requested levels for ICE’s human smuggling and trafficking investigations and counterterrorism investigations, Price said.

In total, ICE has nearly $1.2 billion to focus on its domestic investigations, which includes programs that disrupt gangs, investigate pornography smuggling, put a halt to human smuggling and trafficking and interdict illegal drugs, Price said.

“There has been no suggestion at anytime to me that this money is inadequate,” Price said.

Price said other leaders at ICE said they are content with the budget they have been given.

In a statement, ICE confirms that Pendergraph's comments don't reflect the agency's position.