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Funding requests for Customs and Border Protection under the Biden and Trump administrations are comparable.
Border Patrol staffing has remained consistent under the Biden administration compared with under the Trump administration.
Border laws and policies to prevent immigrants from remaining in the U.S. continue under Biden’s administration.
Nevada’s Republican candidate for Senate, Adam Laxalt, launched an ad saying he will stand up to President Joe Biden and Democrats to "secure our border." The ad shows Laxalt walking near a southwest border fence with three men who appear to be border authorities.
The 15-second TV ad claims, "Biden and Democrats have dismantled border security."
"Biden’s allies won’t admit they opened our borders," the narrator said, followed by clips of Vice President Kamala Harris saying "the border is secure" and Laxalt’s opponent, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., saying "there’s no open borders."
Is Laxalt right about Democrats having "dismantled border security"? No.
Migrant encounters at the southwest border have hit historic highs. In fiscal year 2022, Border Patrol recorded more than 2.2 million encounters with migrants, compared to 1.7 million in 2021. But the increase in encounters isn’t a result of reduced funding at the border.
A review of budget requests, staffing levels and immigration policy decisions show border security efforts have remained largely consistent under the Biden administration compared with under the Trump administration.
Laxalt’s campaign did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment.
PolitiFact found that funding requests for Customs and Border Protection under the Biden and Trump administrations are comparable. Requests under Biden’s tenure don’t show that the administration is trying to tear down the agency.
Over the Trump administration’s four years, funding requests for Customs and Border Protection averaged $15.5 billion a year. Over the Biden administration’s two years, funding requests for the agency averaged $15 billion a year. Ultimately, Congress determines how much money goes to executive agencies.
For fiscal year 2022, the Democratic-controlled Congress appropriated $16.5 billion for the agency, a higher budget than the four enacted under Trump.
We don’t yet know how much Congress will give Customs and Border Protection for its 2023 budget. The White House requested $14.8 billion for the agency in 2023. The Senate and House appropriations committees, led by Democrats, have introduced appropriations bills for the Department of Homeland Security, but have not yet voted on them. The Senate is considering giving the agency $16.5 billion and the House is considering $15.7 billion.
The number of Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 21,000 in 2011 under the Obama administration. Since then, staffing numbers have gone down, hovering around 19,000.
During the Trump administration, the number of Border Patrol agents fluctuated between 19,430 and 19,740. Biden’s administration has had between 19,338 and 19,536 agents.
Staffing consistently stays below the level appropriated by Congress, said Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, at the University of Texas at El Paso.
"You can't blame that on the Biden administration, because that turnover was happening long before Biden came in," Heyman said.
Biden’s administration has requested $95 million from Congress to hire 300 additional Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2023.
Immigration policies at the border under Biden and Trump have stayed largely the same. Border authorities are still enforcing immigration laws; immigrants continue to be expelled, detained or allowed into the country if they pass officials’ initial screenings.
Heyman said there have been slight changes on how policies are applied to different groups of people, but he described these as "nuances" that affect individuals rather than major policy changes.
He pointed to Title 42, a public health policy enacted under Trump to limit COVID-19’s spread. Title 42 is not an immigration policy, but it allows Border Patrol agents to expel immigrants arriving at the border without placing them in formal deportation proceedings.
Title 42 has remained under the Biden administration.
CBP data shows that Border Patrol agents recorded more than 2.2 million encounters with migrants at the southwest border in fiscal year 2022, which ended in September. But that doesn’t mean that 2.2 million people entered the country. That’s because the data counts events, not individuals. For example, a Border Patrol agent could have encountered the same person three times.
Many of the people encountered were quickly expelled by authorities, either under immigration law or under Title 42.
Although Biden has not added more miles of border barriers, his administration has provided funding to reinforce existing barriers and add specialized technology at the border.
Biden in January 2021 signed a proclamation to pause barrier construction at the southwest border. But he has not ordered the dismantling of existing border barriers completed under Trump or any other administration.
In December 2021 and in July, the Department of Homeland Security said it would divert border wall funds appropriated by Congress in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to repair and fix gaps in existing border barriers. These gaps have become crossing points for immigrants, The Washington Post reported. The administration also said it would use some of these funds to add cameras, lighting and other detection technology to secure the border.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed into law in November 2021, appropriated about $430 million to CBP for the construction and modernization of land ports of entry and $3 billion for "critical investments" to Border Patrol stations.
Laxalt claimed, "Biden and Democrats have dismantled border security."
Immigrant encounters have drastically increased over the past two years, but not because of funding or staffing cuts.
The budgets for border security under the Biden administration are comparable to those under Trump. Border Patrol staffing has remained fairly consistent despite long-term hiring and retention challenges. And border laws and policies to prevent immigrants from remaining in the U.S. continue to be enforced under Biden’s presidency.
The Biden administration stopped building additional miles of barriers at the southwest border; however, Biden did not order a dismantling of the barriers built under Trump or other administrations. Biden’s administration has used previously appropriated funds to repair barriers and close gaps that have become popular areas for immigrants to cross into the U.S.
We rate this claim False.
Adam Laxalt, Crisis, 15s, Oct. 20, 2022
Phone interview, Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at University of Texas at El Paso, Nov. 2, 2022
Congressional Research Service, DHS Budget Request Analysis: FY2023, June 2, 2022
Congressional Research Service, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2020, Jan. 21, 2020
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2021, CBP…, accessed Nov. 2, 2022
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DHS Announces New Migration Enforcement Process for Venezuelans, Oct. 12, 2022
PolitiFact, Build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it, July 15, 2020
PolitiFact, Joe Biden border wall criticism hits mark but blanket amnesty misses, Feb. 17, 2021
Washington Post, Where Trump’s border wall left deep scars and open gaps, Biden plans repair job, Feb. 19, 2022
Migration Policy Institute, The World Is Witnessing a Rapid Proliferation of Border Walls, March 2, 2022
AP, Mexico agrees to invest $1.5B in ‘smart’ border technology, July 12, 2022
PolitiFact, US southern border 'completely open'? That’s False, Dec. 2, 2021
PolitiFact, Factchecking Arizona’s Blake Masters’ claim of open borders and Democratic amnesty plans, May 16, 2022
PolitiFact, Fact-checking Greg Abbott’s claims that Biden has ‘open border’ policies, April 26, 2022
PolitiFact, JD Vance’s ad about ‘open border’ and immigrant voters is wrong, April 8, 2022
PolitiFact, A surprising number of Americans believe these false claims about immigrants. Here are the facts, Sept. 6, 2022
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