The new border bill
“But the one thing they are not willing to do is what has been proven to work: a strong physical presence at the border and diligent enforcement of existing law,” Sessions said. “We know how to solve the problem; what we don’t know is why President Obama remains unwilling to do so.” . . .
The bill includes money for 1,500 new border personnel, a pair of unmanned drones and military-style bases along the border. It would be paid for mostly by hiking fees on foreign companies that use U.S. visa programs to import lower-cost labor from countries like India. Firms with more than 50 employees and more than 50 percent of their employees on H-1B work visas would be affected. . . .
Ironically, just last fall the Obama administration cut the number of border agents.
Border Patrol Director of Media Relations Lloyd Easterling confirmed this week . . . that his agency is planning for a net decrease of 384 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal 2010, which begins on October 1. . . .
USA Today has this from February, 2010:
The Obama administration is proposing to scale back some border security programs set up after the 9/11 attacks . . .
• The Border Patrol, which doubled to 20,000 agents during the Bush administration, would lose 180 agents through attrition. Border staffing would stay the same.
• A "virtual" fence of pole cameras and sensors aimed at stopping illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and terrorists on the U.S.-Mexican border, faces a $225 million cut from $800 million last year. That would delay implementation while a review of the fence, plagued by technical problems, is done.
• Five of the Coast Guard's 13 elite Maritime Security and Safety Teams (MSST), created since 2001 to protect waterfront cities, would be eliminated. Obama is proposing cuts in New York City, San Francisco, Anchorage and King's Bay, Ga.
• The existing 643 miles of concrete-and-steel border fence would be maintained but no new barriers would be built. . . .
The liberal PolitiFact has this:
Spending under the budget heading "border security, fencing, infrastructure and technology" has gone down -- from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $800 million this fiscal year. Obama's proposed 2011 budget calls for trimming the fence budget again, to $574 million. . . .
The other major piece of the fencing budget is the so-called "virtual border fence" championed by Bush. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was freezing funding for the "virtual border fence" along the U.S. Mexican border. The virtual fence -- which includes cameras, radar and ground sensors to detect illegal border crossings -- has been plagued by cost overruns, missed deadlines and technical bugs, such as the radar motion detector being unable to distinguish between humans and animals crossing the border. The program had gotten several dreadful reviews from the Government Accountability Office. . . .
Rather, Democrats have shifted funding from border fencing to other border security items, such as increasing the number of border patrol officers. . . .
One question is whether the change in positions is something that the administration really believes or whether it is something they are doing to try to change their image before the November election. There is a lot of opposition to the Obama administration's position on the fence.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 68% of U.S. voters now believe the United States should continue to build a fence on the Mexican border. That’s up nine points from March when the Obama administration halted funding for the fence and the highest level of support ever.
Just 21% oppose the continued building of the border fence.
Support for the fence is strong across all demographic groups. But while 76% of Mainstream voters think the United States should continue to build the fence, 67% of the Political Class are opposed to it. . . .