NEWS

Obama Proposes $27 Billion Budget for Border and Transportation Security

By Matthew Harwood

The Los Angeles Times breaks down President Barack Obama's $27 billion request for border and transportation security in the proposed 2010 budget.

The budget, an 8 percent increase over last year, signals the Obama administration's commitment to securing the southwest border region by impeding the smuggling of U.S.-bought weapons into Mexico and illegal immigration into the United States, according to the LA Times.

To stop the flow of U.S. weaponry into Mexico, the Obama administration has doubled the Department of Homeland Security's budget to combat weapon and currency smuggling to $47 million while requesting more than 100 border patrol officers, border patrol agents, and Customs and Border Protection officers.

Another $70 million will go toward hiring 349 more U.S. analysts and investigators to help the Mexican government develop better intelligence capabilities to fight its hyper-violent drug cartels.

The Obama administration also wants to increase the funding to the Southwest Border Initiative by 18 percent, which specifically targets cartel-related violence from Mexico.

To stymie the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, the budget calls for nearly $200 million, an increase of 18 percent, to fund the hiring of 80 new investigators at DHS to identify illegal aliens that commit crimes and deport them back to their native countries.

The Obama administration also wants to spend $112 million, a 12 percent increase, on E-Verify, an Internet-based system that allows employers to check the legal working status of potential employees. The increase in funds would go to making the system more reliable and getting more employers to use it, the LA Times reports.

This increase is part of the Obama administration's strategic shift in immigration enforcement from illegal workers to the employers who hire them.

As The New York Times reported last week, new guidelines from DHS to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, obtained by the paper, note:

“Enforcement efforts focused on employers better target the root causes of illegal immigration” .... “ICE must prioritize the criminal prosecution of actual employers who knowingly hire illegal workers because such employers are not sufficiently punished or deterred by the arrest of their illegal work force.”

The new guidelines, however, will not be popular with employers who argue that forged documents used by illegal aliens to procure work combined with an unreliable E-Verify system make it impossible to hold employers accountable for hiring illegal labor. The program's latest deadline to ensure that certain federal contractors and subcontractors use E-Verify when hiring employees was recently delayed to June 30, 2009.

The budget also pumps 12 percent more money into the Transportation Security Administration to protect the nation's transportation systems, mainly through better technologies and more personnel. According to the LA Times, TSA will spend "$985 million at airports, $250 million at seaports, and $1.9 billion for the Coast Guard."

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