The Biden administration released its proposed budget for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2025 last month. Coming in at nearly $108 billion, the budget funds numerous aspects of the department’s efforts to secure the homeland.

However, when it comes to resolving the unprecedented border crisis DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Biden administration have created, the proposal falls woefully short—an important fact to remember as the secretary appears before the House Committee on Homeland Security this week to defend it. 

First, consider the massive cuts it proposes for some of the most important components of DHS law enforcement. Despite aggressive messaging from the secretary and the White House about the need for “more resources,” this budget cuts more than $1.4 billion from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) compared with what Congress provided in the fiscal year 2024 continuing resolution.

It’s unconscionable when CBP is on pace to record an all-time high of more than 3.5 million encounters at our borders nationwide this year alone that Mayorkas would actively propose cutting the agency’s funding.

But that’s exactly what he has done.

Additionally, just as he did last year, Mayorkas has proposed taking money from the baseline budgets of CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create a $4.7 billion slush fund euphemistically called the “Southwest Border Contingency Fund.”

This use of funds through this off-budget account would be harder for Congress to track and account for. However, we know it will not be used to secure the border, but instead to fund things like transportation for illegal aliens, the department’s Alternatives to Detention program, and more soft-sided processing centers along the border.

To top it off, DHS law enforcement would be prohibited from using the money to acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities.

The budget request also displays the two-faced nature of Mayorkas’ recent messaging about border security.

Over the past several months, in pushing for the White House’s ill-advised supplemental spending package, the secretary advocated funding for roughly 1,300 new Border Patrol agents—a number less than half that authorized by the House-passed HR 2. However, his official budget request only calls for funding 350 new agents.

The secretary and his allies have also repeatedly called for hundreds of millions of dollars for new Non-Intrusive Inspection technology at ports of entry to help interdict fentanyl. However, now the budget request zeroes out funding for it.

ICE detention and removals are also major losers in the president’s budget. Despite record numbers of illegal aliens crossing the border, whom the law requires DHS to detain, the budget requests only 34,000 detention beds to be funded through ICE’s budget. That comes nowhere close to the 60,000 beds requested by the Trump administration in its final budget, released in February 2020.

In fiscal year 2019, CBP recorded fewer than 1 million encounters at the southwest border. By contrast, CBP recorded 2.4 million encounters in fiscal year 2023 and is on pace for 2.7 million this fiscal year.

And Mayorkas isn’t even using all the beds Congress has provided. Roughly two months after the slaying of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, reportedly by Jose Antonio Ibarra, an illegal immigrant who was paroled into the country in September 2022, the secretary told a Senate panel, “There was no derogatory information of which we were aware in our holdings to compel the detention of this individual.”

Setting aside DHS’ statutory obligation to detain inadmissible aliens, ICE data indicates roughly 8,100 detention beds were available at the time of Ibarra’s release. He should have—and could have—been detained. 

Further, Mayorkas’ budget only anticipates the removal of 125,000 illegal aliens. In fiscal year 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE removed 185,884 illegal aliens. In fiscal year 2019, removals exceeded 267,000.

Sufficient detention space is not the only thing this secretary refuses to ask for, however. The budget request includes a mere $7.1 million for construction of new border wall system, a fraction of what is needed to implement more of this critical border security infrastructure.

The crisis at America’s borders is not one driven by resources, but by the actions, decisions, and policies of Mayorkas and President Joe Biden. At the same time, it’s vital that lawmakers ensure that the dollars we do send to the department go to funding its vital mission—keeping our homeland secure.

This budget consistently fails on that front.

Biden has said, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget—and I’ll tell you what you value.” Going by the budget he and his own DHS secretary have put forward, it would seem the Biden administration does not truly value border security.

That’s a travesty for the entire country. This inadequate budget makes plain that if we want to end the chaos at our borders, it’s up to Congress to do it—because Mayorkas and the Biden administration is clearly not up to the job.