NATIONAL SECURITY STARTS AT OUR NATION'S BORDERS
The disastrous terrorist attacks of September 11th exposed serious weaknesses in our border security. Several of the hijackers easily negated our laws and managed to enter our country. In the aftermath of these attacks, Congress has been working diligently to strengthen our border security in order to ensure that criminals are never again able to circumvent our laws to harm our citizens.
Congress has passed, and the President has signed into law, several measures to protect our borders. These include, the SAFE Port Act which contains provisions to increase the security and screening at ports of entry as well as increase detection and protection of high-risk cargo traveling within the U.S. Additionally, we have made a financial commitment. The Homeland Security Appropriations Act provides $5.2 billion for the Secure Border Initiative and provides Homeland Security officials with the tools and the manpower necessary to secure our borders.
I am pleased that President Bush recently signed into law the Secure Fence Act, yet another important piece of legislation aimed at protecting our overall national security through strengthening our borders. It is estimated that a million people a year cross our borders illegally; this could include drug dealers and even terrorists. This is a clear threat to our national safety and this law makes great strides in stopping this practice.
I was a strong supporter of the Secure Fence Act when it was voted on in the House, because I recognize the importance of border security to our national security. We have learned that we cannot adequately protect our country unless we can control who enters our country.
The Secure Fence Act would require that 700 miles of fence be built along our southern border and require construction of two-layers of reinforced fencing along stretches of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that are considered the most porous parts of the border. Additionally, this law requires the Department of Homeland Security to deploy a virtual fence over all land and sea borders by using Border Patrol agents, fencing, satellites, cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles. This coupled with the legislative accomplishments and the millions of dollars that the Republican Congress has dedicated to border security sends a clear message that border security is a high priority in strengthening our national security.
While we have made great strides in reforming our immigration laws and securing our borders, more still remains to be done. Completely closing our borders to immigrants who seek to experience the American dream or who are needed in this country is not the answer. However, we need to aggressively protect our nation's borders in order to ensure the safety of all Americans. Now is the time to do so and to ensure that security within our borders is the highest priority.