By ChaKiara Tucker / Communications Coordinator for Alliance San Diego
Recently, President Obama revealed the budget for 2017, his final budget as Commander-In-Chief. The $4.7 trillion financial blueprint is a proposal of how this country should appropriate funds, and will be sent to Congress for revisions and approval.
Here are few things you need to know about President Obama’s budget.
After five years of meeting with human rights activists, and with over 40 deaths having occurred within the nation’s border regions, the Obama Administration has finally allocated funds for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to move forward with camera technology, including body-worn cameras.
The $5 million allocation is a drop in the bucket compared to the whopping $40.6 billion earmarked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is a step in the right direction. While this is a great milestone for border communities, it is essential that policymakers continue to urge CBP to to fully equip all border agents with body-worn cameras. Furthermore, the implementation of this technology is not an end-all to the violent culture and impunity of CBP but rather a first step to bringing about meaningful accountability and oversight. We must also advocate for policy to ensure the effectiveness of the cameras, with safeguards to protect privacy and a robust policy that guarantees transparency.
Spanish Language Access
In the southern border region, a large percentage of people that CBP agents come into contact with are Spanish speakers. Although research suggests that 35 percent of CBP agents are Latino and Latina, there still remains a huge language barrier. In Obama’s budget, there is a $3 million allocation to fund Spanish language support, which includes more Spanish-speaking agents and a Spanish-language call center. The increase in bilingualism in the agency is a small victory for humans rights organizations and those who come in contact with the agency. This also represents a cultural shift in the organization as leadership has identified the need for effective communication with the traveling public and border residents alike.
While this may be a small victory, this won’t be the end-all to the communication problems within CBP. The agency is notorious for having a broken complaint system. Often referred to as “the black hole”, victims of abuse usually call to make complaints about poor treatment and yet, their complaints are never addressed.