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Obama Signs $600 Million Bill to Boost U.S. Border Security

August 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JEFFREY BROWN: Securing the U.S.-Mexico border was topic number one at the White House today. It came as illegal immigration returns to the front pages in the U.S. and raging drug violence shakes Mexico.

The U.S. Mexico border, nearly 2,000 miles long, with more than 200 million legal crossings every year and uncounted numbers of illegal ones.

Today President Obama signed a bill upping funding for border security by $600 million with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano looking on. The money will go for 1,000 new border patrol agents, plus 250 agents for ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and 250 officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that polices against terror and other threats.

Meanwhile, across the border in Mexico, as violence brought on by drug cartels continues to spread and daily scenes of murder mount, political leaders, including President Felipe Calderon and Mexican state governors have been meeting in Mexico City this week to seek solutions.

EUGENIO HERNANDEZ FLORES, governor of Tamaulipas, Mexico (through translator): Given the proven firepower of organized crime groups, it is necessary to seal the border to arms trafficking. We propose the federal police, the army and the marines complement the work of Customs at every single entry point into our country.

JEFFREY BROWN: President Calderon has admitted the military tactics he implemented three and a half years ago have failed to rein in the cartels. In that time period, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, and some of it has spilled over the border into the United States.

All of this unfolds as President Obama’s call for comprehensive immigration reform in this country has stalled in the Congress.

At a White House briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said any movement will take leadership from both parties.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: Nothing is going to happen on this issue that only involves one party or one person. And the question is, we will get comprehensive immigration reform when we go back to a time in which both Democrats and Republicans are willing to be leaders.

JEFFREY BROWN: And with those prospects dim, a number of individual states are moving toward taking matters more into their own hands. Earlier this afternoon, I spoke about all this with Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.