House passes Mexico border fence bill

House passes Mexico border fence bill

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives voted 283-138 [roll call] Thursday for a bill providing for the construction of a 700-mile fence along the US-Mexico border designed to curb illegal immigration [JURIST news archive]. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 [PDF text; HR 6061 summary] also provides that the Department of Homeland Security [official website] take control of the border in 18 months and gives border patrol agents additional authority to stop fleeing vehicles. The bill, however, does not provide the funding to pay for the construction of the "reinforced fencing," which is estimated to be between $2 and $7 billion. The Secure Fence Act also calls for a study [Canadian Press report; JURIST report] to determine whether a fence should be constructed along the Canadian border.

In December 2005, the House passed a broader immigration bill [JURIST report] which provided for a border fence as well as making illegal immigration a felony. The Senate passed a separate immigration reform bill [JURIST report] in May. The Senate version included a border fence provision [JURIST report], but would have also set millions of illegal immigrants on a path to potential citizenship and would have authorized a temporary worker program. US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earlier this month said that negotiations to reconcile the two bills would be postponed [JURIST report] in order to focus on border security and worksite enforcement legislation. AP has more.