Today, President Bush Signed The Department Of Homeland Security Appropriations Act Of Fiscal Year 2006 And Discussed Our Priorities In Defending The Homeland. We are tearing down the legal and bureaucratic wall that separated intelligence agents from law enforcement officers, and we have disrupted terrorist planning and financing. We have used the Patriot Act to break up terror cells and prosecute their operatives and supporters. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased the number of people guarding our borders, hardened security of the Nation's infrastructure, and helped give local and state law enforcement the tools they need to do their job.
DHS Is Protecting The American People. This bill supports ongoing efforts to protect the homeland with $30.8 billion in discretionary funding - an increase of $1.8 billion over 2005. This will help make America safer by identifying terrorists seeking to enter our country, safeguarding cities against weapons of mass destruction, and better preparing the Federal government to respond to a catastrophic attack.
DHS Is Enforcing Our Immigration Laws. America welcomes all who come here respecting our laws and is strengthened by those who come seeking opportunity. To preserve that opportunity, immigration laws must be respected and vigorously enforced. This is a matter of justice and national security. This bill includes $7.5 billion in funding to address the serious problem of illegal immigration. We will gain control of our borders and make America more secure.
Defending The Homeland By Improving Border Security
Enforcing Our Borders Is Key To America's Homeland Defense. When our borders are not secure, terrorists, drug dealers, and criminals find it easier to sneak into our country. The Administration has a clear strategy to address this problem. We are strengthening security along our borders, improving our ability to find and apprehend illegal immigrants who have crossed the border, and working to ensure that those caught are returned to their home countries as soon as possible.
The Federal Government Is Acting To Enhance America's Border Security. To stop illegal immigrants from coming into the United States, the Federal government has increased manpower, upgraded technology, and improved physical barriers along the border. Since 2001, the Federal government has increased funding for border security by 60 percent and hired more than 1,900 new Border Patrol agents. New technologies like unmanned aircraft, ground sensors, and infrared cameras have been deployed. The Administration is also taking steps to complete a fence running along the San Diego border with Mexico.
The Federal Government Is Enforcing America's Immigration Laws And Sending Illegal Immigrants Back Home. Since 2001, we have increased funding for immigration enforcement by 35 percent. The government has added nearly 1,000 agents and investigators to help us find and return illegal immigrants, and we are targeting the criminal gangs and coyotes that traffic in humans. Working with state and local law enforcement in Arizona, we have prosecuted more than 2,300 people for smuggling drugs, guns, and illegal immigrants across the border. To make the process more effective, we are working with foreign governments to review cases and issue travel documents more quickly. Since 2001, we have removed several million illegal immigrants from the United States - including nearly 300,000 with criminal records.
More Needs To Be Done To Secure Our Borders. Despite these efforts, today we capture many more illegal immigrants than we can send home - especially non-Mexicans. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of bed space in detention facilities. When no bed space is available for a non-Mexican illegal immigrant, he or she is let go on a promise to return for a court appearance. However, many never show. Last year, we returned only 30,000 of the 160,000 non-Mexican illegal immigrants who crossed the southwest border. This bill will expand our reach and effectiveness in two important ways:
First, DHS Funding Will Improve Efforts To Close Our Borders To Those Trying To Sneak Through. DHS Appropriations provide more than $2.3 billion for the Border Patrol. The bill includes funding for 1,000 new agents, $139 million to improve technology and intelligence capabilities, $82 million to improve and expand Border Patrol stations, and $70 million to install and improve fencing, lighting, vehicle barriers, and roads. Together these programs will help us build smarter and more secure borders.
Second, DHS Funding Will Enhance Efforts To Find And Return Illegal Immigrants. DHS Appropriations provides more than $3.7 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This bill includes funding for 100 new Immigration Enforcement Agents and 250 criminal investigators. By funding more than 1,900 additional beds in our detention facilities, this bill allows us to hold more non-Mexican illegal immigrants while we process them through a program called expedited removal. Putting more non-Mexican illegal immigrants through expedited removal is crucial to ending the problem of "catch and release." The goal is clear: to return every single illegal entrant - with no exceptions.
DHS Funding Will Help Interior Repatriation Of Illegal Mexican Immigrants. Most of the 900,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico who are caught each year are immediately escorted back across the border, but can sneak right back into the country. One part of the solution is a program called interior repatriation - where we fly or bus them all the way back to their home towns, making it more difficult to turn around and cross back into the United States. Our goal is to break the cycle of illegal border crossings, end the violence associated with human smuggling, and save lives.
Because Enforcement Alone Will Not Work, The President Has Proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform. If an employer has a job that no American will take, we need a way to fill that demand by matching willing employers with willing workers from a foreign country on a temporary and legal basis. The best way to fill that demand is with a temporary worker program that gives the workers we need a legal and honest way to come into our country - and return home. Worksite enforcement will be a critical part of any program, and this bill strengthens enforcement by adding new agents and doubling their resources. By reducing pressure on our border and offering a legal path for those willing to work, the Federal government can concentrate on apprehending those who violate our laws and pose the greatest risk to our security.