October 5th, 2006 02:58 EST
President Signs Bill Giving $33.8 Billion to Homeland Security
Washington -- President Bush signed a bill October 4 that allocates $33.8 billion to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year that began October 1.
At the signing ceremony in Scotsdale, Arizona, Bush said the bill includes a 25 percent increase in funding for immigration and customs enforcement. This funding will help provide at least 6,700 new beds in detention centers, thus establishing better controls over illegal immigrants who are apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, he said.
“[W]hen people know that they'll be caught and sent home if they enter the country illegally, they're going to be less likely to try to enter illegally in the first place,” Bush said.
In addition to border control efforts, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5441) will help fund the deployment of nuclear detection equipment at U.S. ports of entry, raise security standards at the nation's chemical plants, safeguard American cities against weapons of mass destruction and stop terrorists seeking to enter the United States, the president said.
Bush said the bill also will help the U.S. government better respond to emergencies and natural disasters by strengthening the capabilities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for dealing with catastrophes such as the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina.
In his remarks, however, the president focused on the difficulties created by illegal immigration. Accompanied by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, and U.S. Congress members, Bush acknowledged the burdens imposed by illegal immigration -- most especially on Arizona and other southern border states.
“I understand full well,” Bush said, “that illegal immigration puts pressure on the public schools and hospitals. It strains state and local budgets. In some communities, it increases crime. The administration and Congress have been taking decisive steps to address this issue.” (See related article.)
H.R. 5441, the president said, includes nearly $1.2 billion in additional funding for strengthening the border via additional border fencing, vehicle barriers, lighting and cutting-edge technology such as ground-based radar, infrared cameras and advance sensors. The bill also supports an increase in the number of Border Patrol agents to about 18,000 by the end of 2008. The president said that since he took office in 2001, the number of Border Patrol agents has increased from 9,000 to 12,000.
The president said, “Enforcement alone is not going to work.” What is needed, he said, is comprehensive reform that provides a legal way for people to work in the United States on a temporary basis. Such reform, Bush said, would “free up our law enforcement officers to focus on criminals and drug dealers and terrorists and others who mean us harm.”
Bush vowed to continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures U.S. borders, upholds the laws, “and honors our nation's proud heritage as a land of immigrants.” (See related article.)
For more on U.S. policy, see Immigration Reform.
A transcript of the president’s remarks at the signing ceremony for the bill is available on the White House Web site.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)