“Dangerous” Cuts Effectively Repeal The Bipartisan Border Security Bill Passed Last Congress – Emergency Legislation Added 1,000 Agents
Washington, DC— U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Jon Tester (D-MT) today revealed that H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution (CR) approved by House Republicans, could result in 870 fewer border patrol agents guarding our nation’s borders. The senators called the cuts a “giant step backward in securing our border” and said that they could effectively repeal the emergency bipartisan border security bill passed last Congress. The proposed cuts would also reduce funding for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology by $272 million.
In a letter to Congressman Harold Rogers, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and Congressman Robert Aderholt, Chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, the senators called the cuts put forth in the CR “dangerous” and “irresponsible,” and said they would harm the security of our nation.
The senators wrote, “We are troubled to learn that the proposed House Continuing Resolution provides funding for only 20,500 agents, which effectively nullifies the very border security gains that were made in August, and again leaves our agents understaffed against the dangerous cartels that we were attempting to combat through our emergency legislation.”
The senators said that a bipartisan emergency border security bill passed in August of last year allocated $600 million to bring the total number of border patrol agents up to 21,370 – an increase of 1,000. The House CR reduces that number by 870 to 20,500. The House proposal also reduces the Department of Homeland Security budget for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology by $272 million. Reducing the funding available to repair the fence will greatly reduce its effectiveness, wasting the billions of dollars invested to build it in the first place. With a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicating that only four percent of our northern border is secure, and with thousands of attempted incursions across our southern border every year, the senators called the cuts proposed by the GOP “simply dangerous.”
All told, the cuts will result in a less secure border and open the country up to increased drug smuggling, currency smuggling and illegal immigration. At a time when crime south of our border is out of control, these cuts are simply unacceptable the senators will say.
The senators vowed to oppose the cuts and pledged to work with the Congressmen in making sure that the security and protection of the United States is upheld.
A copy of the letter appears below.
February 21, 2011
The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives
2406 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Robert B. Aderholt
Chairman, Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives
2264 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairmen Rogers and Aderholt,
As Senators from border states, we write today to express our grave concerns about the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed spending levels for border security and immigration enforcement for fiscal year (FY) 2011.
As you know, in August 2010, Congress unanimously passed a $600 million emergency border security bill that increased the size of the Border Patrol by 1,000 agents to a total of 21,370 full-time agents. The emergency supplemental bill was specifically enacted to address concerns that the border did not have sufficient personnel to combat illegal immigration, drug and gun smuggling, and human trafficking. Now, we are troubled to learn that the proposed House Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R. 1, provides funding for only 20,500 agents. This effectively nullifies the very border security gains that were made in August, and again leaves our agents understaffed against the dangerous cartels that we are attempting to combat.
The House CR will also reduce the Department of Homeland Security budget for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology by $272 million compared to FY 2010 levels. Even if reasonable lawmakers might disagree about the optimal mix of infrastructure and technology used by the border patrol, this magnitude of reduction is simply dangerous. Over the course of a year, thousands of incursions are attempted through our southern border security fence and the repeated damage caused to the fence during these incursions must be continually repaired in order to maintain our current level of security. Reducing the funding available to repair the fence will greatly reduce its effectiveness, wasting the billions of dollars invested to build it in the first place. In addition, given the Government Accountability Office’s recent report indicating that only four percent of the northern border is secure, we can no longer ignore the need for increased border security infrastructure and technology along the northern border.
Simply put, cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our security and our economy. They will render us unable to secure our borders and, even worse, will reverse the progress Congress has made in reducing the flow of illegal immigration, guns, and drugs along our border. As terrorists and smugglers continue to devise new methods to harm America, we must stand ready to make sure our men and women on the ground have the tools they need to keep us safe. Cutting their budget at this important time is irresponsible and dangerous.
We thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to working with you to ensure that we are fulfilling our solemn oath to protect the United States.
Sen. Charles Schumer
Sen. Jeff Bingaman
Sen. Jon Tester