UPDATE: One week after the Senate and House approved additional funding for border security, President Barack Obama signed the measure into law. The Southwest Border bill makes $600 million available for additional border patrol agents and surveillance equipment. Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, was present for the signing; her department will be responsible for managing the funds and hiring 1,000 new border patrol agents.
ORIGINAL STORY: Late last night, the U.S. Senate approved additional funding to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and now the measure must pass the House of Representatives. The $600 million Southwest Border bill will increase the Department of Homeland Security’s border security budget by 10%.
The funds will be used to hire additional border patrol agents, provide additional surveillance drones and to hire 500 customs and immigration personnel. There will also be additional FBI, DEA and ATF agents deployed to the border with these funds.
Senator John McCain who co-sponsored the senate bill begrudgingly acknowledged this as a “significant step” toward securing the border. He had initially suggested that along with the $600 million in funding the bill should allow for individuals caught crossing to be charged with a federal crime and put into jail for up to 6 months with second time offenders facing 20 years in prison.
The $600 million will not increase the ballooning deficit, according to the Senate, but will come from a higher tax on businesses importing foreign labor in the U.S.