Washington – In a special session, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved $600 million in emergency spending for border security. This comes on the heels of the 2010 Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Bill (H.R. 6080) passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Included in the $600 million is $176 million for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents to form a “strike force” that would be deployed along the Southwest border as needed; $32 million for drones to do unmanned surveillance on the border; and $80 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including $50 million for new personnel.
“Efforts to overhaul our broken immigration system have once again taken a back seat to appeasing anti-immigrant xenophobes, as Congress passed another dramatic escalation in border enforcement with very little evidence that past escalations have been effective,” stated LULAC National President Margaret Moran. “Despite long ago exceeding the enforcement benchmarks, outlined by conservatives as a precursor to real reform, Congress continues to throw money at the problem when it has become abundantly clear that enforcement alone will not work.”
Over the last two decades, the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement. Since 1992, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased by 714 percent. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has grown by 390 percent. Interior enforcement has expanded as well, and detentions and deportations are at record levels.
“The fact is that the enforcement benchmarks that conservatives insisted on in 2007 have been met, unauthorized border crossings are down, violent crime is down, and the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has declined,” stated Brent Wilkes, LULAC National Executive Director. “However, instead of following through on their promise of comprehensive immigration reform once the targets were met, we just have ever escalating calls for enforcement.”
LULAC believes that our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our borders, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants.
“Republican Senators who supported a comprehensive bill in the past must recognize that the enforcement benchmarks they had sought have been met and that it is now time for them to sit down with Democratic leaders and negotiate a comprehensive bipartisan immigration bill that can truly fix our broken immigration system,” said Moran. “With the support of Senators Bennett, Brownback, Collins, Cornyn, Graham, Gregg, Kyl, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Snowe and Voinovich, a fair and comprehensive immigration reform bill could be passed by this Congress. Now is the time for them to exercise true leadership and to do what they know is right.”
The League of the United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating through 850 LULAC councils nationwide.