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More funds for border security.

President Obama today signed into law an act that appropriates $600 million for more agents and more equipment along the nation's border with Mexico.

\"The resources made available through this legislation will build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the Southwest border and across the country,\" Obama said. \"And this new law will also strengthen our partnership with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organizations that operate on both sides of our shared border.\"

The act will pay for the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas along the border, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It also provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones.

Guarding the border with Mexico, both as regards the smuggling of drugs and other goods and illegal immigration, has been a controversial issue for decades. But the spotlight has grown hotter of late, since Arizona enacted legislation in April considered the toughest immigration law in the United States.

The measure, which Obama called a \"misguided,\" would require police in Arizona to determine if people are in the country illegally if there is \"reasonable suspicion\" that such is the case.

Critics said the law would open the door to racial profiling. Proponents said Arizona was simply complementing U.S. immigration law and doing the job that the federal government was failing to do.

The Arizona law was set to go into effect on July 29, but a federal judge stopped its implementation with an injunction on July 28, saying that the federal government was likely to succeed in showing that federal law preempts various sections of the new state law.

Arizona is appealing the injunction.

In the meantime, the Obama administration urged Congress pass its plan to enhance border security.

Last week, the Senate passed the measure and earlier this week, having returned from recess to pass a financial aid measure for the states, the House also okayed the border security bill.

 \"With President Obama's signature today, we have taken an important step that will clamp down on cartel activity along our Southwest border and give our law enforcement professionals working in the region a much needed boost,\" said Rep. David Price, D-NC, chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, who shepherded the bill through the House.

\"This investment will expand the Border Patrol's interdiction programs targeted at drug, weapons and alien smuggling operations, and put better communications equipment in the hands of Border Patrol agents,\" Price said.

Price added that \"enforcement and border security alone will not solve our immigration challenges.  But border security is an important part of broad reform of our broken immigration system.\"

Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both from Arizona, put out a release saying the measure \"is a start.\"

\"We are pleased that it included some of the pieces of our McCain-Kyl 10-point border security plan, including additional unmanned aerial systems and forward operating bases as well as an increase in Border Patrol agents,\" the lawmakers said.

Still, the senators criticized the legislation for not including enough funding for other measures they deem essential to border security, including additional Customs inspectors at ports of entry.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Aug 13, 2010
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