WASHINGTON — Nearly 1,500 additional federal law enforcement personnel - including 1,000 additional U.S. Border Patrol agents - will soon be heading to America's borders thanks to $600 million in additional federal spending signed into law Friday by President Obama.
Obama signed the bipartisan legislation without comment in the Oval Office with only Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano standing behind him.
Cooperation by all
The administration and both parties in Congress cooperated on the get-tough law despite ongoing partisan bickering over immigration policy, drug trafficking and alleged spillover violence from the Mexican drug wars. The Senate returned from its summer vacation on Thursday to give the election-year measure final approval.
The spending package includes $176 million for 1,000 new U.S. Border Patrol agents - a 5 percent boost from the current 20,000 officers - to form a rapid deployment force at trouble spots, $89 million to pay for 500 additional customs and immigration personnel officers and $32 million to provide fro two additional unmanned aerial surveillance drones.
The Justice Department also is due to get $196 million to boost the number of U.S. marshals and agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along the border.
Obama earlier ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border at federal expense in May. Roughly one-third of the deployments have been completed.Texas stands to receive 286 National Guard troops.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry had urged Obama in a letter delivered to top White House aide Valerie Jarrett during the president's visit to Texas on Monday to take additional steps to secure the U.S. border. Obama had nothing to say Friday about the stepped- up enforcement efforts.
But in a statement issued on Thursday after the Senate action, the president said that he had made border security "a top priority," dedicating "unprecedented resources and personnel to combating the transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and smuggle people across the border with Mexico."
'An important difference'
Obama said the additional funding for border security "answers my call to bolster the essential work of federal law enforcement officials," adding that the measures "will make an important difference as my administration continues to work with Congress toward bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, and restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system."
The administration's effort to underscore a law-and-order approach along the border follows the Justice Department filing suit to block implementation of a new state law in Arizona authorizing local law enforcement personnel to question suspects about their immigration status and requiring immigrants to carry their documents. A federal judge has suspended implementation of key portions of the law, pending further judicial action.
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