Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Obama seeks $27B for border security

Money also would fund crackdown on firms that hire illegal immigrants

WASHINGTON – President Obama will ask Congress for $27 billion to beef up border security and immigration enforcement, administration officials said Wednesday.

The president’s fiscal 2010 budget request, to be delivered to lawmakers Thursday, calls for an 8 percent increase over the current fiscal year.

It also represents a shift away from what Obama officials see as headline-grabbing by the Bush administration, which emphasized erecting fences at the border and conducting high-profile workplace raids that targeted workers. New efforts will crack down on employers who drive the demand for illegal immigrants, White House officials said.

White House officials said their budget request would:

• Increase by nearly 18 percent funding for the Justice Department’s Southwest Border Initiative, which is aimed at slowing the flow of criminals, weapons and drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. This $2 billion request would support efforts by Mexico to combat drug cartel violence and apprehend criminals.

• Double funding and provide $46.8 million to the Department of Homeland Security to stop the southbound flow of guns and drug money from the U.S. to Mexico. It would allow DHS to add 44 Border Patrol agents and 65 Customs and Border Protection officers.

• Combat border violence by providing $70 million in new DHS funding to hire 349 special agents, intelligence analysts and criminal investigators to coordinate efforts with the Mexican government.

• Step up efforts to remove criminal immigrants by increasing funding for the DHS Secure Communities program by 30 percent to nearly $200 million. The money would finance hiring 80 law enforcement officers to identify the worst suspected foreign-born criminals in U.S. prisons and elsewhere and help deport them.

• Beef up security at airports and seaports by providing a 12 percent increase for the Transportation Security Administration, for a total of $7.5 billion. The money would be used to buy new X-ray and imaging equipment to help detect concealed weapons and explosives. It would be used for additional security officers at seaports.

• Strengthen E-Verify, the voluntary Web-based system designed to help U.S. employers confirm whether would-be workers are in the nation legally. The request calls for $112 million to improve the reliability of the system and expand its capacity to handle more employers.

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