FEBRUARY 15, 2011
Crucial border security programs are on the chopping block under a government spending bill proposed by Republicans, who have long called for strengthening security along the notoriously violent and porous southern border.The hypocritical move essentially puts Republicans on the same page as Democrats on a contentious issue that has long been the source of partisan battles. President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, revealed just a few weeks ago, reduces the number of Border Patrol agents along the Mexican border by 180 and cuts $226 million in funding for an electronic “virtual fence.”The Republican government spending bill introduced just days ago slashes $600 million from border security and immigration enforcement funds. It would not reduce the number of Border Patrol agents but would decrease funding for border security fencing and technology by $350 million and a federal employment verification program (known as E-Verify) by about $33 million.House Republicans are touting the budget proposal as the “largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress.” It cuts government spending by a much-needed $100 billion at a time when the nation’s debt is $14 trillion, according to a statement released by the House Appropriations Committee. The entire Continuing Resolution can be viewed on the committee’s website.Ironically, Republicans blasted President Obama for not taking immigration enforcement seriously when his budget proposal was made public earlier this month. A ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, even accused the commander-in-chief of leaving the nation vulnerable to future terrorist attacks by underfunding key national security programs along the southwest border.Other high-profile Republicans have also denounced the administration’s efforts to secure the Mexican border. Among them is House Speaker John Boehner, who recently said “the violence on America’s border is out of control and the federal government isn’t doing its job.” Boehner was also critical of border enforcement under the George W. Bush administration.Now both parties have come together to slash funding for border security and the timing could not be worse. Mexican drug-cartel violence hit record levels in 2010 and more than 13,000 people were murdered in disturbing and cruel ways not commonly seen in previous years. In some areas the violence has spilled into U.S.communities, forcing local law enforcement agencies to create special units dedicated to combating criminal activity related to illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels.
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