Request Falls Short of Full Funding for Border Agents

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Feb. 7, 2006

President Bush’s new budget again fails to fund the entire number of Border Patrol agents mandated by Congress but for the first time includes funds for his proposed guest-worker program.

The budget calls for 1,500 new U.S. Border Patrol agents and 6,700 new detention beds for illegal aliens awaiting deportation—far more than last year’s budget, but still short of the 2,000 new agents and 8,000 new beds per year that he and Congress agreed to in the December 2004 intelligence-overhaul bill.

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She also said Mr. Bush’s “one-track focus on the temporary-worker program is detrimental” to the other border—and immigration-security efforts, but was pleased that the administration included money to begin funding a proposed employer-verification system that passed the House last month.

The provision, which would require employers to check workers’ Social Security numbers, has not passed the Senate. Another immigration-related provision, from the 2005 Real I.D. Act, requires states to make immigration status checks before their driver’s licenses or identification cards become valid for federal purposes.

The budget proposes $134.9 million and 365 staff positions for those provisions.

It also includes $247 million in anticipation that Congress will pass a guest-worker program.

“We’re talking about initial steps that the department can take and efforts that agencies like Citizenship and Immigration Services can begin to implement,” Mr. Knocke said.

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