Michael Webster
Emergency Senate spending bill approved $600M for Border protection
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By Michael Webster
August 7, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Senate Thursday added $600 million to the effort to try and slow the flow of illegal smuggling of drugs and humans across the U.S. Mexican border.

The money the bill will provide is to be used for adding 1,500 new enforcement agents and deploying unmanned aerial drones to improve border surveillance.

The new legislation if approved by the House and Senate committee's will include $176 million for 1,000 new border patrol agents to form a new and bigger task strike force to be deployed at critical choke points of the Mexican Drug Cartels smuggling corridors along the border and inland, that are used to bring drugs, undocumented immigrants and possible terrorist into this country. another $89 million will be used to hire 500 more U.S. Customs and immigration personnel and $32 million to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles or predators.

It provides an additional $196 million for the Justice Department to bolster its forces of U.S. marshals, and FBI, DEA and ATF agents along the border's entry and exit points.

According to the AP the voice vote to pass the emergency spending came in the final hours before the Senate leaves for its month long summer break. Its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, said it would boost border spending 10 percent above 2010 levels.

President Barack Obama urged Congress to come up with at least $600 million to reinforce border security. In the past both Republicans and Democrats have wanted more border security spending.

The main stumbling block has been how to pay for the increased spending. Republicans sought to use unspent funds from the economic stimulus act, an idea rejected by Democrats.

The Democratic plan passed Thursday would boost fees assessed on foreign-based personnel companies that take advantage of U.S. visa programs, such as the H-1B visa program for temporary skilled workers, to bring foreign workers, mainly from India, into the United States.

The House last week passed similar legislation with $701 million in emergency money for border security. It could take up the Senate bill when it interrupts its August recess next Tuesday for a one-day session to approve a Senate-passed jobs bill.

Schumer, who announced his proposal earlier Thursday with Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., challenged Republicans to put aside differences and support the measure. "It's a test of people's seriousness when it comes to the border," he said.

Sen. John McCain, who last week joined fellow Arizona Republican Jon Kyl in introducing a $701 million bill, initially objected, saying it was insufficient.

He suggested, among other things, the addition of $200 million to support Operation Streamline, a program begun under the George W. Bush administration subjecting anyone who crosses the border illegally in areas where the program is in place to federal charges with prison terms of up to six months for the first illegal entry. Those who re-enter face prosecution for felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

When Schumer said he could not accept McCain's amendments, McCain agreed to back the bill. "I believe we have a lot more to do, but this will contribute to our effort to get our border secured," he said.

"Now our attention must turn to comprehensive reform, which is the only way to fully address the problem of illegal immigration," Schumer said after the vote.

Sources:

U.S. House

Operation Streamline

Sen. Charles Schumer

Sen. John McCain

Sen. Claire McCaskill

AP

U.S. Border Patrol

© Michael Webster

 

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Michael Webster

Michael Webster's Syndicated Investigative Reports are read worldwide, in 100 or more U.S. outlets and in at least 136 countries and territories. He publishes articles in association with global news agencies and media information services with more than 350 news affiliates in 136 countries... (more)

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