How We Should Really Be Spending Trump’s $3 Billion Immigration Enforcement Supplemental Funding

By Philip E. Wolgin, Rita Medina, and Tom Jawetz

Editor’s note: This piece was originally compiled based upon a publicly reported draft version of the Department of Homeland Security supplemental spending request, before the official request came out today. The numbers have been revised to fit the official request.

Today, the Trump administration submitted a supplemental request to Congress for an additional $3 billion in immigration enforcement funds. This money would go straight to fund Trump’s mass deportation agenda, which has already created chaos and incited fear in communities. The request would include money to begin construction of his unpopular wall across the U.S.-Mexico border — something that even people like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) think is a terrible idea — to assemble his promised “deportation force” by hiring new Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, personnel, and to expand ICE’s immigrant detention capacity, giving a blank check to the private prison industry.

Instead of increasing funds to needlessly ramp up immigration enforcement and tear families apart, the administration should instead use this $3 billion to create tens of thousands of new jobs, help ease the burdens of childcare on thousands of Americans, hire new teachers, and build new schools.

Here are just a few things that would be a better use of $3 billion:


  • Create 45,000 new middle-class jobs as a result of investments in infrastructure, at a cost of roughly $66,667 each.


  • Build 184 new elementary schools, at a cost of roughly $16.3 million each.
  • Hire just over 55,000 new kindergarten and elementary school teachers, at an annual salary of $54,500 each.
  • Pay for nearly 311,000 people to attend a four-year college per year, at an in-state tuition rate of $9,650.

Child Care

  • Provide $10,000 in subsidies to defer the costs of child care for 300,000 working class families.
  • Provide nearly 337,000 Head Start slots for children, at a cost of roughly $8,911 each.

The Environment

National Service

Humanitarian Aid

  • Provide 10 million life-saving HIV/AIDS treatments under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, program, at a cost of roughly $300 each.


  • Build one new Curiosity-type Mars rover, with money to spare, at a cost of $2.4 billion.

Philip E. Wolgin is the Managing Director for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. Rita Medina is the Immigration Campaign Associate at the Center. Tom Jawetz is the Vice President for Immigration Policy at the Center. The authors thank Neil Campbell, Kevin DeGood, Katie Hamm, Peter Juul, Carolyn Kenney, Matt Lee-Ashley, Ben Miller, Lisette Partelow, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Scott Sargrad, and Harry Stein for their help.

American Progress (CAP)

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