From local law enforcement to increased security at our borders and ports, protecting our homeland will remain one of my top priorities. With the threat of terrorist acts against our nation ever present, we must continue to focus on this issue.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. DHS is responsible for all homeland security related activities among executive departments and agencies and promoting the effective development and implementation of all homeland security policies. An example of the work that DHS is doing is with its Grants to States Program. Since its inception, DHS has awarded millions of dollars through Fire Act Grants to the Fire Departments in the First District of Kentucky used for equipment, fire trucks, and various other items of need.
Since 2001, border security funding has more than doubled, from $4.6 billion in 2001 to $10.4 billion in 2007. Border agents have apprehended and sent home more than 4.5 million people coming into the country illegally including about 350,000 with criminal records. The border must be open to trade and tourism and closed to criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.
Like most Kentuckians, I am opposed to granting amnesty to persons who have entered our nation illegally. Amnesty not only forces the costs of illegal immigration on the American people, but also punishes those who play by the rules and achieve U.S. residency legally. Furthermore, the threat of terrorists coming into our country has made it essential that we fully protect our borders.
While much is being done to combat illegal immigration, much more needs to be done. As a member of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, I am working with my Caucus colleagues to enact meaningful immigration reform legislation.
Following September 11th, the federal government has implemented a multi-faceted defense plan to secure our ports. This plan includes funding over $630 million in grants to the largest ports for new technology, cargo screening and inspection, the creation of a business partnership of nearly 5,800 international firms working to improve baseline security standards, and much more. During last Congress, I supported several efforts to increase security at our ports, such as the Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act, which was enacted into law last year. This legislation increases port security at United States' ports, improves tracking and protecting containers enroute to the United States, and reduces the risk of possible terrorist threats from reaching our country.
I support tough crime laws and providing incentives to states to increase enforcement of existing laws. To help battle crime in the First District, we have coordinated with federal law enforcement officials to have two Drug Enforcement Administration agents permanently stationed in the First District. I worked diligently to secure $4.9 million to support local law enforcement efforts to combat the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine in the First District. I have also supported funding for the Department of Justice to continue the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grants Program. This program has provided the state and local governments with millions of dollars to help create safer communities.