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What we want to see in the Biden administration’s budget

It’s time to stop wasting our taxpayer dollars on war and militarism—and invest in our communities.  

The way we allocate our money as a nation says a lot about our values--and this year, we’re spending lots of money locking people in cages, militarizing border communities, and waging war abroad. In this year's spending bills, Congress once again allocated a huge portion of our taxpayer dollars to things like abusive immigration enforcement agencies and the Pentagon—while failing to adequately fund health care, education, housing, and other vital services that our communities truly need. 

In 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will get billions of dollars to continue jailing  people in  detention centers, which are known for human rights abuses, unsanitary conditions, and this year, some of the country’s worst  COVID-19 outbreaks. Customs and Border Protection was given almost $1.4 billion to continue building the destructive border wall. And the defense budget—which pays for endless wars and other militarized responses in other countries,, will once again consume more than half of the U.S. discretionary budget. 

It is long past time for the U.S. budget to reflect our values—and prioritize programs and services that promote the health and being of instead of war, militarism, and immigration enforcement.

Soon President Biden will release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022. The budget is a critical opportunity for the administration to make good on its promises to make the immigration system more just, to invest in solutions to climate change, and to support public health and economic recovery - and Biden could choose to pay for that investment with significant decreases in militarized spending. 

We urge the Biden administration to:

Defund Hate Coalition members lobby Congress to cut funding to ICE and CBP. Photo: Carl Roose/AFSC 

Defund ICE and CBP: As vice-president, Biden was part of an administration that deported and detained millions of immigrants--separating loved ones and causing irreparable harm to our communities- and now, as president, he presides over detention and deportations. Today we must hold Biden accountable to end the abuses of these agencies and focus on quickly and fairly resolving immigration cases. Instead of investing in detention, deportation, and raids, the administration must defund ICE and CBP and shifts resources to community-based programs that provide immigrants with housing, legal services, health care, and other services. 

Cut the Pentagon budget: Despite the fact that the Pentagon receives over half of the United States’ discretionary budget, has failed to pass an audit, and continues to harm people around the world through endless wars, Biden has not endorsed public calls  to reduce the Pentagon’s budget. It’s long past for the U.S. to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on weapons and war—both to stop the terror on Black and brown communities abroad and to free up resources to invest in diplomacy and the capacity of nations to peaceful solve disputes. 

Under the Trump administration, people across the country stepped up to resist a range of attacks on our communities. Today it’s as important as ever that we keep pushing for a future where all people have their rights and dignity and respected—and the resources they need to thrive. 

The Biden administration has the unique opportunity to make good on their campaign promises to “Build Back Better” by cutting militarized spending and investing that money back into our communities. 

Let’s not waste this opportunity to make real progress on progressive issues.

About the Author

Tori Bateman is policy advocacy coordinator in AFSC's Office of Public Policy and Advocacy. She advocates for U.S. policy that aligns with AFSC's vision of shared security.