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Bush to sign US-Mexico border fence bill during Arizona campaign swing

Bush to sign US-Mexico border fence bill during Arizona campaign swing

President George W. Bush plans to sign a bill that could bring hundreds of miles (kilometers) of fencing to the busiest illegal entry point on the U.S.-Mexico border during a campaign swing through Arizona on Wednesday.
The signing will be another move in Bush's get-tough approach to illegal immigration and will come in the state that has been the illegal entry hot spot for several years and the center of much of the debate over secure borders.
Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano is expected to be present for the bill signing Wednesday. The ceremony will follow a breakfast fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, a Republican seeking a third term from Arizona's sprawling 1st District.
Included in the Department of Homeland Security funding measure Bush plans to sign is $1.2 billion (euro940 million) for border security spending, including fences and other barriers along the border.
Bush's actions come despite last-minute pleas from the Mexican government for him to veto the bill. In a diplomatic note sent to the United States on Monday, Mexico harshly criticized the Senate vote authorizing 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) of new fencing along the border.
The money will also go toward border infrastructure and other security assets and resources that will complement the development of a high-tech virtual fence that Homeland Security announced almost two weeks ago, agency spokesman Russell Knocke said.
The Department of Homeland Security awarded a $67 million (euro52.6 million) contract to Boeing Co. to install 28 miles (45 kilometers) of high-tech fencing along a portion of the Arizona border, including towers with cameras and other sophisticated sensing devices. The $67 million (euro52.6 million) comes from money allocated during the fiscal year that ended Saturday, Knocke said.
The government has said the virtual fence will eventually cover 6,000 miles (9,654 kilometers) along the Mexican and Canadian borders in efforts to make them secure. It has not placed a price tag on the project.
"Fencing is an important part of the plan for the urban areas," Knocke said. Physical fencing will be more critical in those settings where undocumented crossers can quickly blend in with crowds of people, he said.
In remote areas, Knocke added, the virtual fencing will be more important in enabling Border Patrol agents to intercept illegal immigrants "on their own terms and in the location of their own choosing."
Mario Martinez, a Border Patrol spokesman in Washington, said no figures were available yet on how much fencing is to be built.
The visit will be Bush's 15th to Arizona as president, and second since a May 18 stop in Yuma, Arizona, to tour the U.S.-Mexican border.
Bush was scheduled to arrive in Arizona on Tuesday evening following a day of campaigning in California for Republican candidates.
"The president has shown that he loves Arizona and the voters ... have stayed with him, they're true supporters, true in their loyalty to him," Renzi said.


Updated : 2021-07-31 09:45 GMT+08:00