Jim Kouri
President cuts border security in proposed budget
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By Jim Kouri
February 2, 2010

While telling the American people that national security is a priority in his administration, President Barack Obama submitted a 2011 budget proposal that includes cuts to U.S. border security.

The proposed budget cuts include a reduction in Border Patrol agents and a cut in the amount of money allocated for the so-called "virtual fence" on the U.S.-Mexico border, which critics claim is a pipe dream in lieu of a real border fence

In the midst of a firestorm over Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's failure to appear before a Congressional committee hearing, officials from her office confirmed the proposed cuts on Monday. They said, however, that there would be no lay-offs of Border Patrol agents and the reduction in positions would be achieved through attrition as agents retire or transfer to other Homeland Security departments.

In order to ward off vocal condemnation of this latest Obama proposal, White House officials claim the cuts won't reduce the effectiveness of the U.S. Border Patrol, which President George W. Bush doubled in size. At it's apex, there were more than 20,000 agents assigned to northern and southern borders.

This latest White House attempt to reduce the amount of resources allocated for border protection will undoubtedly be met with resistance from the Senate and House of Representatives, who will be vote on proposed budget cuts, according to several national security experts.

"The Republicans are expected to kick up a fuss over this latest effort to minimize the protection of U.S. borders. But, this is an election year and Democrats do not want to appear weak on security, especially when control of both houses of Congress is at stake," said former NYPD detective and Marine intelligence officer Sid Frances.

"Look at it this way: New York City has a police department that numbers well over 40,000 officers and another 10,000 civilian employees, yet the U.S. Border Patrol agents, who are responsible for thousands and thousands of miles of border, number only 20,000. And Obama wants to cut that number," said Frances, now the owner of a private security firm.

Obama's proposed budget cut also would eliminate $226 million that had been allocated for an electronic "virtual fence" system along the border. Known as "SBInet," the strategy is to install cameras, radar and sensors to detect humans and contraband coming into the U.S..

Obama White House officials told reporters that even though the President is seeking cuts in border programs, the administration is seeking an additional $10 million to create Border Enforcement Security Task Forces in Honolulu, San Francisco, and Massena, N.Y.

These multi-agency teams work to identify and stop criminal organizations that transport drugs and other contraband across U.S. borders.

"This is only the beginning," said political strategist Mike Baker. "There will be more cuts made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement since President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others have been critical of agents going after illegal workers. This budget is going to be all smoke and mirrors."

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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