Days of border security boosts appear over

Securing the nation's border is as volatile an issue as ever, but the days of throwing money at virtual fences and boosting the number of Border Patrol agents are over, at least according to President Obama's new budget.

For the past few years, politicians were falling over themselves to boost funding for more border and immigration officers, as well as expensive security technology. Only seven months ago, Congress approved -- and Obama signed -- a $600 million emergency supplemental for security efforts along the Mexican border.

How the winds have shifted.

The administration's fiscal 2012 budget request for the Homeland Security Department does not seek big funding increases for border security, and actually decreases funding in some areas.

And many House Republicans were outdoing themselves trying to cut border security in the pending fiscal 2011 spending bill that was on the floor this week.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday that watching House Republicans slash border funding "was an experience in whiplash."

Napolitano said the fiscal 2012 budget request "reflects this administration's strong commitment to protecting the homeland and the American people through the effective use of DHS resources."

But concerns about gaps along the nation's border -- especially with Mexico -- linger. One U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was shot and killed and another wounded in Mexico on Tuesday, fueling fears that the drug war in that country is spinning out of control and increasingly affecting U.S. interests.

"I am convinced, tragically, that if the status quo remains, that violence will continue to spill over to our side of the border," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Napolitano during Thursday's hearing. "The level of violence in Mexico continues to go up dramatically."

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said after the hearing the shooting was an "assassination" and "like an act of war."

For next fiscal year, the administration is seeking about $10.4 billion for Customs and Border Protection, compared to about $10.1 billion for fiscal 2010, the last year Congress approved a budget. The funding will maintain about 21,370 Border Patrol agents, while allowing for the hiring of 300 more CBP officers at ports of entry. About $5.5 billion is being sought in fiscal 2012 for ICE, on par with fiscal 2010.

The Homeland Security Department recently scrapped its program to build a virtual fence along the Southern border. Instead, the department says it will focus on what sections of the border need in terms of technology and infrastructure.

To that end, the department is seeking about $528 million for the so-called SBInet program, compared to about $825 million in actual spending in 2010.

The administration also proposes a $194-million reduction in funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, an immigration-enforcement program run by the Justice Department.

But the DHS budget seeks funding to continue expanding the Secure Communities program, which runs the fingerprints of illegal immigrants who are arrested against federal databases to determine if they have a criminal record. The department is seeking $184 million for the program, a $64 million increase.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.