Despite his signing a bill authorizing 2,000 new border agents, President Bush will not ask Congress for enough money to fund them.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told USA Today yesterday that the administration’s new budget will propose “good incremental increase” in the number of agents but would not approach the 2,000 level.
As part of the intelligence bill passed last month, Congress proposed nearly doubling the number of Border Patrol agents by adding 10,000 over five years. But Ridge scoffed at such an increase, saying it would be an inefficient use of homeland security funds.
“The notion that you’re going to have 10,000 is sort of a fool’s gold,” Ridge told the paper. “It’s nice to say you’re going to have 10,000 more Border Patrol agents in five years, but what other part of Homeland Security do you want to take the money from?”
He said it makes more sense to pay for a combination of more agents and better technology, such as ground sensors and cameras.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, criticized the lack of funding.
“Cameras don’t catch people, people catch people,” he told USA Today. “If you don’t have the agents you’re not going to catch the people your technology sees.”
The number of illegal aliens in the U.S. grows daily with estimates ranging from 8 million to 20 million.