Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Budget Scrapped Border Agents

Bush budget scraps 9,790 border patrol agents

President uses law's escape clause to drop funding for new homeland security force

- Michael Hedges, Houston Chronicle
February 9, 2005

Washington -- The law signed by President Bush less than two months ago to add thousands of border patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has crashed into the reality of Bush's austere federal budget proposal, officials said Tuesday.

Officially approved by Bush on Dec. 17 after extensive bickering in Congress, the National Intelligence Reform Act included the requirement to add 10,000 border patrol agents in the five years beginning with 2006. Roughly 80 percent of the agents were to patrol the southern U.S. border from Texas to California, along which thousands of people cross into the United States illegally every year.

But Bush's proposed 2006 budget, revealed Monday, funds only 210 new border agents.

The shrunken increase reflects the lack of money for an army of border guards and the capacity to train them, officials said. [...]

The law signed by Bush had a caveat that went virtually unreported at the time. A summary, published by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, required the government to increase the number of border patrol agents by at least 2,000 per year, "subject to available appropriations." [...]

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