More budget woes for border security

Monday, February 21, 2011

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines to slash spending by an estimated $600 million for border security and immigration enforcement for the remainder of this fiscal year, according to ABC News. The budget allocates $350 million less for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology than Congress approved last year, and $124 million below what the Department of Homeland Security requested.

Democrats argue the House bill would shrink the Border Patrol by 870 agents and cut $272 million in funds for surveillance systems to monitor the border with Mexico, according to an article in The New York Times. They said those cuts would cancel gains from a bill adopted last August, with virtually unanimous bipartisan support, that increased border funding by $600 million, adding 1,000 new agents to the Border Patrol.

The bill also cuts an estimated $159 million over last year for Customs and Border Protection modernization and construction programs, and is $40 million less than the agency sought to get the job done.

However, Republican leaders said the House budget cuts did not undercut their border security goals. “Even with all the money in the world, the administration would not succeed in securing the border because they are not serious about it,” said Lamar Smith, the Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The two sides must agree to a spending bill by March 4 to avoid a government shutdown.