Congress Spends Another $600 Million for Border Militarization

Border Patrol agents retake their oaths during a May ceremony celebrating the 86th anniversary of the the Patrol, near Edinburg, Texas. (Photo: Getty Images/Scott Olson)

Congress Spends Another $600 Million for Border Militarization

President Obama expected to sign bill today

Now we know: Congress can pass an immigration bill in two days if it really wants to. The Senate just passed another $600 million for border security after Senators Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill proposed it last week.

The House returned this week from summer recess to approve the funding, as well as the $26 billion for states aid. The money will pay for 1,500 more border agents, unmanned aerial surveillance equipment and communications technology.

With anti-immigrant sentiment burning across the country and mid-term elections just around the corner, Democrats are angling to appear tough on immigrants and immigration enforcement. And Republicans are working overtime to be as outrageous as they can on immigration. (See: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Florida attorney general Bill McCollum; the latest iteration of John McCain.)

But we already spend billions every year on interior immigration enforcement and border security. Under President Obama's watch, the country now employs a record number of Customs and Border Protection officers, and before this recent spate of funding increases, immigration enforcement spending already stood at $11 billion for 2010. It was $8 billion in 2008. This summer, President Obama deployed 1,200 National Guard to patrol the border, and requested another $500 million for ramped up militarization.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised Schumer and McCaskill's proposal after it passed last week. "These assets are critical to bringing additional capabilities to crack down on transnational criminal organizations and reduce the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons," Napolitano said.

And as long as the Obama administration continues to conflate drug traffickers with all migrants, increased border enforcement is what we'll continue to get.

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