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Tuesday, January 25, 2005
  Border Schmorder - Gotta get those potential voters over the wire and onto the rolls.
Yahoo! News - 2,000 new border agents aren't part of budget, Ridge says
President Bush (news - web sites) will not ask Congress for enough money to add 2,000 agents to patrol the nation's borders in his 2006 budget, even though he signed a bill last month authorizing the increase.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday that Bush's new budget, to be released in early February, will propose a "good incremental increase" in the number of agents. But he made it clear the number would not approach 2,000. The new agents were to be the first hires toward doubling the size of the force over five years.

As part of a sweeping intelligence bill passed in December, Congress called for nearly doubling the size of the Border Patrol by adding 10,000 agents over five years. The agency has about 11,000 agents; 90% work along the southern border with Mexico.

But in an interview with USA TODAY, Ridge scoffed at the notion of adding so many agents and said it would be an inefficient use of precious homeland security dollars.

"The notion that you're going to have 10,000 is sort of a fool's gold," Ridge said. "It's nice to say you're going to have 10,000 more Border Patrol agents in five years, but what other part of Homeland Security do you want to take the money from?"

He said it makes more sense to pay for a combination of more agents and better technology, such as ground sensors and cameras.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the Bush administration is making a mistake. "Cameras don't catch people, people catch people," he said. "If you don't have the agents you're not going to catch the people your technology sees."
 
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