Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bush's budget message mixed on immigration

In his 2006-2007 budget proposal, President Bush included an ambitious plan to hire 3,000 new border agents in the coming fiscal year. But at the same time, Bush would slash or eliminate money for law enforcement, port security and health programs that have helped border states manage the crush of immigrants coming their way.

While the border patrol swells by another 3,000 agents, other programs to help border states deal with the cost of immigration would be cut.

The debate over more border agents versus reduced funding for immigration impacts dominated discussion of the Bush budget's impact. One of the biggest impacts could be the proposed elimination of money for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. Bush has tried for several years to eliminate the program, arguing that it's not Washington's job to pay the states' share of incarcerating criminals.

But Governors, including Bush when he was governor of Texas, argue that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility. The most recent allocation from Congress was about $661 million.

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