Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bush Promised 2,000 More Border Patrol Agents ... But His Budget Delivers Just 210

It's another case of actions speaking louder than words.

During the presidential campaign, President Bush touted his administration's response to suggestions made by the 9/11 Commission. One suggestion was to vastly increase the number of U.S. border patrol agents.

Bush worked with House and Senate Republicans in negotiating the final version of the legislation. In a December 6 letter to the House-Senate conferees negotiating the bill, Bush said: "I also believe the conference took an important step in strengthening our immigration laws by, among other items, increasing the number of border patrol agents." Eleven days later, Bush signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 -- with the stated goal of adding 10,000 border patrol agents over the next five years, nearly doubling the current amount.

But in Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4337) -- released earlier this week -- Bush only plans to hire 210 such agents.

***

Tom Ridge, Bush's outgoing secretary of Homeland Security, warned that Bush wouldn't find the money to fully fund the legislation.

"The notion that you're going to have 10,000 is sort of a fool's gold," Ridge told USA Today on Jan. 24. "It's nice to say you're going to have 10,000 more Border Patrol agents in five years, but what other part of Homeland Security do you want to take the money from?"

It's a complaint that Democrats have been making ever since Bush came into office. Bush makes a campaign promise regarding some high-profile need, but fails to follow through when it comes to providing the funding to match. Think "No Child Left Behind," or securing our nation's chemical and nuclear plants. Bush's words were far louder than his subsequent actions.

***

Why the need for more border patrol agents?

"We could use the help," T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told USA Today in December. "We're getting our butts kicked out there."

Last year, 1.1 million people were arrested trying to cross the border from Mexico. Bonner told the newspaper. Agents now catch only about one-third of those who make it across each day. The Department of Homeland Security has expressed concern that because of tighter aviation security, members of al-Qaeda could try to cross into the USA by land.

"Agents in the field say they're badly needed, especially given the alarming number who are coming under fire from drug and alien smugglers," reported CNN on Feb. 3. "In the 261-mile stretch of border known as the Tucson sector, there were 81 assaults against Border Patrol agents in the past four months, including nine shootings. That's twice as many as the same period last year."

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Amazingly, Republicans took the lead in denouncing the Bush budget.

House Homeland Security Chairman Christopher Cox (R-CA) said on Feb. 7: "Securing our borders against illegal crossings must be another budget priority. While the President's budget proposes important support for many border security initiatives, some remain badly underfunded. Congress authorized adding 2,000 Border Patrol agents in 2006, but the $37 million in the budget would fund only 210 of these positions. This is wholly inadequate."

If recent history is any indicator, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) will probably seek to quickly replace Cox with someone more willing to support the president (http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2005/01/republican-party-machine-ousts.html#).

***

In a related move, Bush's budget also would eliminate the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, known as SCAAP, which defrays costs to border counties that jail illegal immigrants. Bush wanted to kill the program in earlier budgets, but Congress fought to restore it.

"If they take away the money, who's going to pay for it?" Texas Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz told The Dallas Morning News. "The counties along the border, they don't have a strong tax base to support the federal government. It should be the other way around – the federal government should be supporting the counties."

3 Comments:

Blogger Sabertooth said...

When Bush was Governor, the State of Texas sued the federal government for SCAAP funds:

"Said Gov. Bush in 1995 while suing Washington for $5 billion: 'If the federal government cannot do its job of enforcing the borders, then it owes the states monies to pay for its failure.'

http://thetarpit.blogspot.com/2005/02/more-bush-budget-border.html

When are you on the Left going to quit letting Bush off easy for his borders hypocrisy and empty redefinitions of Amnesty? The Democrats are more beholden to the illegal alien lobby than the President. In the third Presidential Debate, Bush said to illegals "you're going to come here if you're worth you're salt," but Kerry couldn't capitialize because he'd already pandered with a bigger Amnesty of his own. Pathetic.

I'll keep an eye on your blog. Maybe there's some hope.

Regards,

Sabertooth

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More proof to add to blog two doors down that Bush is incompetent at protecting the U.S. from another 9-11. Why the stuff David addresses -- questioning the Bush Administration's REAL -- not hyped -- position on homeland security is not front page news on every newspaper in America this week is beyond me.
So, when Al Quada walks across the Mexican border and causes some havoc somewhere resulting in the deaths of thousands of additional Americans, Bush will stammer "We did everything we could have done."
And the mainstream press, either intentionally or unintentionally, will be unable to recall the kinds of available news above -- and agree in sheep-like unison.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad it doesnt make news. But if you notice, in todays ridiculously partisan environment, the news doesnt report anything unless the two sides completely disagree. And since the dems disagree with 99% of everything Bush does, there is enough "news" to satisfy them. However, on issues where our entire government will not act, like the illegals, the news is silent.

Neither side wants to take a position on the illegals---both for their own political reasons. Sad because our natl security is at risk.

I had to laugh watching 24 when K sutherland had to basically apologize in a public service announcement for the depiction of a muslim family involved in terrorism. on a show that is clearly fake. maybe he should do a PSA explaining how a man can go all night with no food, drinks, bathroom and still save the world. I guess it isnt realistic to portray a muslim terrorist cell in a time period where we are at war with islamic extremists.

7:01 PM  

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