New Report Details How Increasing Funding for “Zero-Tolerance” Immigration Laws “Will Destroy Lives and Waste Billions”


New York, NY – On the heels of yesterday’s introduction of Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which directs the federal government to further expand its multi-billion-dollar immigration enforcement budget, a new report by the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law and the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN) warns against increasing funding for the abusive deportation system, established by controversial Clinton-era legislation.

Trump’s budget unmasks his plans to further build upon the foundation established by the 1996 immigration laws by funding a drastic expansion of the immigration police force, attacking sanctuary cities, and de-funding critical services for communities across the country.

Key budget proposals include:

  • An extra $300 million for ICE and CBP and to recruit and hire 1,500 more agents
  • $1.5 billion for more detention beds
  • $2.6 billion for border security, including $1.6 billion for “new and replacement” wall along the southern border
  • Replaces 18 USC 1373 with language that violates settled law; mandates compliance with immigration detainers
  • Includes extremely coercive language to restrict federal funds

Dismantle, Don’t Expand: The 1996 Immigration Laws offers policy-makers, advocates, and reporters an accessible study of the 1996 laws, the devastating human and fiscal impact their implementation has had on millions of Americans, and the argument for doing away with them.

“The 1996 Laws break apart communities of color by allowing a single contact with law enforcement to result in banishment from the country,” the report states, adding that the laws “make the immigration so severe that a single marijuana offense can be sufficient to deport many green card holders.”

“As the report shows, the authors of the 1996 laws realized immediately that their full enforcement would be a mistake. To further expand the 1996 laws at a time when the Trump administration is set on no-holds-barred enforcement would only compound the well-recognized problems with those laws,” stated Nancy Morawetz, Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU. “What is needed are greater opportunities for discretionary relief not more inflexible policies that rip apart American families.”

“Our country’s immigrant punishment system has grown out of control — and the Trump administration is now exposing its most barbaric elements. Congress took the wrong approach to immigration two decades ago and each year it forces the public to foot the bill for their mistake, which has torn apart families, destabilized local economies, and disappeared millions of our loved ones,” said Mizue Aizeki, Deputy Director of the Immigrant Defense Project.

“Trump’s budget proposals offer a chilling view into his intentions to build a domestic paramilitary immigration police force,” said Paromita Shah, Associate Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “Adding more money for more guns and boots does nothing but create crisis in our communities.”

“This administration has painted a target on the back of nearly every immigrant, and today’s budget is a misguided attempt to fund that aim. Defunding and dismantling the 1996 laws would be a clear win for our country’s commitment to equal treatment,” said Angie Junck, Supervising Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Key Takeaways from “Dismantle, Don’t Expand”:

  • Tripling ICE’s deportation capacity would result in an estimated loss of more than $700 million in annual state and local tax revenue.
  • In the six months following an immigrant parent’s arrest, family income plummets by an average of 70%.
  • Children with an incarcerated parent are 2.5 times more likely to face mental and health problems, and 3 to 4 times more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.
  • 1996 Laws act as “one-strike laws” that subject noncitizens, not solely undocumented immigrants, to mandatory deportation for certain crimes, including those without jail sentences.

To schedule an interview with authors of the report, contact


The Immigrant Justice Network is a collaboration between the Immigrant Defense Project, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. IJN engages in advocacy, education, technical assistance, training, communications and litigation to address the needs of those caught in the intersection of the criminal justice and immigration systems.

The Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) at New York University’s School of Law is a leading institution in both local and national struggles for immigrant rights. Our students engage in direct legal representation of immigrants and community organizations in litigation at the agency, federal court, and where necessary Supreme Court level, and in immigrant rights campaigns at the local, state, and national level.

The Immigrant Justice Network is a leading advocacy voice against the criminalization of immigrants in the United States. Grounded in racial justice values, we build power to defend the dignity of all immigrants.