In response to Bush's address and call for deployment of the National Guard, tomorrow John Kerry will offer an amendment to the Immigration Reform Bill to add 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents -- bringing the total up to 3,000 new agents this year – plus add an additional 100 helicopters and 250 power boats to secure America’s borders.
“We know we need a comprehensive answer to immigration that includes tightening border security, but putting another burden on the backs of men and women who are serving their second tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t the right answer,” said John Kerry. “The right answer is to listen to the 9/11 Commission and put the border patrol agents we need right there on the border.”
John Kerry’s Rapid Response Amendment would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to deploy up to 1,000 additional border patrol agents if the governor of a border state declares an international border security emergency and requests additional agents. In addition to the at least 100 additional helicopters and 250 power boats, as well as training for their use, it requires one police-type vehicle per every three border patrol agents and requires that each vehicle have a portable computer. It also requires that all agents have a two-way, clear and encrypted radio, a GPS device, night vision equipment when applicable, high quality body armor, reliable and effective weapons, and uniforms appropriate for climate conditions.
Kerry’s amendment is similar to legislation offered in the House by Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), who is a former Border Patrol agent, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.
Bush's speech tonight is timed to "coincide with the resumption of that Senate debate," and it also" comes as Bush’s job approval ratings continue to slide to around 30 percent in some recent polls."