[JURIST] President George W. Bush Thursday signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [PDF text; HR 6061 summary] authorizing 700 miles of fencing [JURIST news archive] along the US-Mexico border. The legislation represents the second portion of a two-part plan to tackle illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] in the US; the first half of the legislation creates a $34.8 billion fund for tackling immigration issues, including the money to build the 700-mile fence. The bill, which was sent to the White House for approval [JURIST report] earlier this week, allows the US Secretary of Homeland Security [official website] to begin using $1.2 billion earmarked for the construction of a border control fence to prevent illegal aliens from entering the US and outlines when and how the building project will get underway.
In remarks [text] at the signing ceremony Bush sought to place the bill in a larger context:
The Secure Fence Act is part of our efforts to reform our immigration system. We have more to do. Meaningful immigration reforms means that we must enforce our immigration laws in the United States. It is against the law to hire someone who is here illegally. We fully understand that most businesses want to obey that law, but they cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of widespread document fraud. So we're creating a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility, and in the meantime, holding people to account for breaking the law.Outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox [official website, English version] has vehemently opposed fence construction [JURIST report], saying it will complicate US-Mexico relations [MFA press release], while the foreign affairs adviser to Mexican president-elect Felipe Calderon [BBC profile], Arturo Sarukhan, urged Canada to publicly oppose [CTV report] the border control fence on a visit to that country Wednesday. Reuters has more.