Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) called today for a renewed emphasis on border security as he praised House passage of HR 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
"Nobody is saying that a border fence is the be-all end-all solution to our problems, but it is an important part of the first step toward getting a handle on our national security and immigration problems. A secure border has to be priority one," said McKeon.
The Secure Fence Act is legislation that would authorize the construction of 700 miles of double layered fencing and barriers along the nation’s southwester border. In addition, the bill authorizes the creation of a "virtual fence" made up of unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors, cameras and other surveillance technologies. The bill would also allow border personnel to disable fleeing vehicles.
"If we were to stop with a fence, our border problems would not be solved. There is more we need to do, including providing our border patrol with the necessary resources to do their jobs and bringing to bear the latest technologies. That said, there is no point discussing long term solutions to the immigration and border problems if we don’t take obvious first steps, including the development of a security fence along key parts of the border," added McKeon.
The Secure Fence Act was originally part of a larger immigration bill that passed the House of Representatives in December of 2005. The Senate passed a different immigration measure and as yet there has been no progress in reconciling the two bills. It is not clear at this point if a comprehensive immigration bill will pass this year.
"The Senate bill may have some useful elements, but it is clear that it is mixing priorities and failing to get first things first," said McKeon. "I hope my Senate colleagues will move swiftly to pass the Secure Fence Act and then sit down with those of us in the House who want real border security to work out a comprehensive bill."
The Secure Fence Act passed the House by 283 to 138.
"No matter where you stand on the immigration issue, safe borders are something that we can all agree on and I commend my House colleagues who voted for the Secure Border Act and I am pleased by its passage," said McKeon.