US President Barack Obama [official website] Friday signed legislation designed to increase security along the US-Mexico border. The Act [HR 6080 materials] allocates an additional $600 million toward hiring 1,000 new Border Patrol [CPB officlal website] agents and 200 special agents, building two new border control stations and buying more surveillance tools, including unmanned aircraft drones. The House of Representatives [official website] approved the bill Tuesday; it was originally introduced August 5. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] praised the bipartisan effort [press briefing, text] in passing the bill and explained the long-term goals of the Act:
The legislation adds permanent resources that will continue to bolster security along the Southwest border, supporting our efforts to crack down on transnational criminal organizations, and reduce the trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons.Napolitano added that the Act was the first step in a large-scale immigration reform project that would continue over the next few years. Obama has already called for sweeping immigration reform [JURIST report] in light of the growing nationwide debate on immigration policy.
Last week, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli (R) [official website] issued an opinion [JURIST report] finding that state law enforcement officials have the authority to investigate the immigration status of those they stop or arrest. Cuccinelli's opinion mirrors the tough Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive], which has been widely criticized as unconstitutional for allegedly legalizing racial profiling. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against the most controversial aspects of the law.