Bush signs Homeland bill; border fence coming
Standing before a mountainous backdrop in Arizona, a state that has been the center of debate over secure borders, President Bush this week signed into law a $35 billion Homeland security spending bill that could bring hundreds of miles of fencing to the busiest illegal entry point on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Among other things, Bush said the Homeland security funding bill deploys nuclear detection equipment to points of entry, raises safety security standards at chemical plants, provides better tools to enforce immigration laws and provides vehicle barriers, lighting and infrared cameras to help catch illegals trying to cross the border.
“It’s what the people in this country want,” Bush said. “They want to know that we are modernizing the border so we can better secure the border.”
Additional highlights of the bill include:
* $34.8 billion total in regular and emergency appropriations, which represents a $1.3 billion increase over last year’s non-Hurricane Katrina appropriations.
* An unprecedented level of funding for critical components of the Secure Border Initiative, which includes 1,500 border patrol agents, 6,700 detention beds, and $1.2 billion for border fencing, vehicle barriers, technology and tactical infrastructure.
* Authority for DHS to implement risk-based security standards for chemical facilities that present high levels of risk.
* Enhanced security for all modes of transportation and support for traditional missions such as maritime safety, drug interdiction, presidential protection, and law enforcement.
* Funding to equip first responders with resources to prevent, deter and respond to terrorist acts and natural disasters.
* A $163.6 million increase in funding over FY 2006 for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to further DHS efforts to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.
* A $1.065 billion increase for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater program, 450 new border patrol officers for cargo inspection and trade operations, and the resources to expand the Container Security Initiative program to 58 foreign seaports. In addition, $55 million will be provided for C-TPAT, supporting 100 percent validation of more than 6,070 certified partners.
* Keeps FEMA and its capabilities within DHS.