Senate OKs Homeland Security Bill; New Border Agent Hires Total 1,500 for Next Year

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 8, 2005 | Go to article overview

Senate OKs Homeland Security Bill; New Border Agent Hires Total 1,500 for Next Year


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Congress yesterday approved hiring 1,000 new Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2006 with Senate passage of the homeland security spending bill.

The bill, which passed by voice vote after first clearing the House on Thursday night, now goes to President Bush for his signature.

Coupled with the 500 agents approved in an earlier emergency spending request, Congress now has funded 1,500 agents for next year - far higher than the 210 agents Mr. Bush proposed in his February budget.

But it is 500 agents short of the 2,000 per year Congress and the White House agreed to in last year's intelligence overhaul bill.

The bill passed yesterday also includes money for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire 250 more immigration investigators and 460 detention and removal personnel. It also brings the total number of detention beds to 20,300.

"Today's bill is critical to successfully tightening enforcement along our borders; however it's just a first step," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, who will visit the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas next week to look at border security firsthand.

In the House yesterday, more than 80 Republicans sent the president a letter calling on him to enforce immigration laws first and put off action on a guest-worker program until later.

"History has shown that enforcement provisions are ignored and underfunded while guest-worker and amnesty provisions are always implemented," write the House members, led by Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and John Hostettler of Indiana.

Also yesterday, the Senate passed its version of the defense spending bill, a $445 billion package that includes another $50 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That bill, which passed 97-0, now must be reconciled with the House version, and lawmakers face a veto threat from Mr. …

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Senate OKs Homeland Security Bill; New Border Agent Hires Total 1,500 for Next Year
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