Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has misrepresented a spending bill President Joe Biden sent to Congress that’s mostly devoted to military and economic aid to Ukraine and Israel, falsely claiming that none of the money is allocated to U.S. border security and that the funds will be spent “processing the invaders deeper into the United States.”
In fact, the proposal includes significant funds for border enforcement, and the money dedicated to accelerating the pace of resolving asylum claims is not a guarantee that those cases will be approved.
Bannon is the host of War Room, a podcast where he and his guests advance some of the most openly anti-immigrant sentiments in right-wing media. He also frequently posts on Gettr, a right-wing alternative to X (formerly known as Twitter), and reportedly has been paid as much as $50,000 to use and promote the site.
On Monday, Bannon posted a link to an Associated Press story detailing how Biden’s proposed spending would be allocated, commenting: “Biden’s Border Money is a sucker’s play — all of it goes to aiding the Invaders …"
Later that morning, Bannon repeated the claim on War Room in a segment with correspondent Ben Bergquam.
“When you talk to your congressman, not one penny for quote-unquote border security,” Bannon said. “It's not for border security — it's for processing the invaders deeper into the United States.”
The AP story Bannon posted contradicts his own central claims. As AP makes clear, the Biden administration has asked Congress to approve $14 billion in spending for border and immigration issues as part of a larger package, which is devoted mostly to new military and economic aid to Ukraine and Israel. Of the $14 billion request, only $1.4 billion is set aside “to help state and local governments provide shelter and services for migrants.”
Here’s how the rest breaks down:
The White House proposal includes $1.6 billion to hire 1,600 new asylum officers and processing personnel, which could double the number of people working on asylum cases. It also suggests $1.4 billion to add 375 immigration judges and their teams in addition to money for 1,300 new border patrol agents. There is $4.4 billion for Homeland Security efforts, including increased funding for holding facilities as the administration works to quickly deport those who do not qualify for asylum.
There’s also $1.3 billion requested for regional migration centers outside the U.S., a new effort brokered by the Biden administration to encourage would-be migrants to stay where they are and apply for asylum before crossing the deadly Darien gap between South and Central America.
Bannon’s claim there’s “not one penny for quote-unquote border security” is similarly undermined by AP’s accounting, which reports much of the money will go to new border patrol agents and “holding facilities.”
Bannon is narrowly correct that some of the money is devoted to speeding up processing times, but that’s not the same thing as providing aid to migrants. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that more asylum applications will get approved.
As AP makes clear, “New York City alone is expecting to spend more than $5 billion” on humanitarian aid to migrants “by the end of the budget year.” Bannon paints the Biden administration as being overly generous with aid, but the reality is that federal funding is falling far short of what’s needed.
Bannon and others in right-wing media have used the Israeli bombardment of Gaza following a Hamas attack on October 7 as an excuse to fearmonger about so-called terrorists infiltrating the U.S. southern border. His latest talking point is just another entry in the broader, xenophobic narrative that he’s pushed for years.