Wilson Highlights Increase in Border Agents
Congresswoman Heather Wilson today supported the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which passed the House 268-150, and highlighted the funding to recruit and train 3,000 new border agents.
The bill would bring the total number of border agents funded by Congress to 17,819, once hired and trained.
The bill includes $8.8 billion for customs and border enforcement, an increase of $797 million over 2007 and $50 million more than the President's budget request. Of that funding, $1 billion is for with barriers and tactical infrastructure at the border, along with the new agents. The funding would also provide for 250 new customs officers to help implement security programs in the Safe Port Act.
"We have to secure the border. We should make it harder for people to cross the border illegally, easier for people to get caught and easier for people to be sent back immediately," Wilson said.
Since fiscal year 2006, Congress has appropriated $40.6 billion to help secure our border, and the funds passed today would bring the total to $49.4 billion. Congress has also passed funding to increase the number of detention beds, Immigration and Customs officers, and various other activities and logistics as part of the Secure Border Initiative.
The Deming-Lordsburg corridor in New Mexico has received significant help from this funding.
Wilson said these bills are part of a strategy to secure the border. "We need enough border agents to stop illegal immigration and human trafficking," Wilson said. "But that is not all we need. We must reform the system so that those caught coming here illegally are returned promptly, and there is a workable system for employers to hire people legally."
The $36.3 billion Homeland Security Appropriations Act funds the Department of Homeland Security's operations, including Federal Emergency Management response capabilities and a $1.7 billion disaster relief fund for assistance to states following events such as wildfires or floods.