Rep. Smith Votes for Immediate Border Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) today again voted in favor of legislation to create a security fence along portions of the southern border. H.R. 6061, the "Secure Fence Act of 2006," which will strengthen security at our borders through an increase in the use of technology and physical barriers, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 283-138.
"The current porous nature of our border is an open invitation to disaster. Therefore, the immediate need to secure our borders cannot be denied. Terrorists are looking for any weakness to exploit in their efforts to attack Americans at home and we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this threat," said Smith, Vice-Chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
The "Secure Fence Act of 2006" provides for over 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing along the southwest border with prioritized placement at critical, highly populated areas, and requires an evaluation of infrastructure needs along the northern border. It mandates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) achieve and maintain operational control over the entire border through a "virtual fence" that deploys cameras, ground sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and integrated surveillance technology. Finally, it requires that DHS provide all necessary authority to border personnel to disable fleeing vehicles similar to the authority held by the United States Coast Guard for maritime vessels.
"In the past, I have voted to construct fencing along the border to guard against the threat of terrorism and stem the flow of illegal immigration. Those efforts have proven successful as statistics show illegal incursions have been dramatically reduced in the fenced stretch along the San Diego-Mexico border," said Smith pointing to a 1996 vote he cast in favor of legislation that mandated a 14-mile fence along the San Diego-Mexico border which has been credited with helping reduce illegal immigrant apprehensions from approximately 200,000 in 1992 to about 9,000 in 2005.
While noting the how fenced portions of the U.S.-Mexico border has made a positive impact on our efforts to reduce illegal immigration, Smith also stated that he has consistently supported a additional efforts to increase border security and enforcement including the use of National Guard troops to enforce our borders, the hiring of one thousand new border agents and enhancements to the Department of Justice's ability to better process violations of immigration law.
"Border security is a fundamental and absolutely critical component of our national security and a basic responsibility of the United States as a sovereign nation. Today's vote is a critical step in our renewed efforts to focus on the security deficiencies at our borders and push the Senate to act on security measures. In the coming weeks we will also seek to increase enforcement efforts at the border, crackdown on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and enhance state and local efforts to enforce immigration laws," said Smith.