House passes border security bill

The House passed a border security bill designed to reduce illegal immigration by installing more fencing, surveillance cameras and other forms of technology along the southern and northern U.S. borders.

Among the measures approved Dec. 16 was the use of satellite communications among Border Patrol agents and other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Another measure would require that secure, machine-readable Social Security cards be issued to immigrants seeking employment in the United States. That would entail creating a unified database comprised of information from the Social Security Administration and maintained by the Homeland Security Department for employment eligibility verification.

The bill also calls for a joint strategic plan between the DHS and the Defense Department to use more technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles and Tethered Aerostat Radar System to improve surveillance.

Members of Congress have repeatedly said strengthening border security is one of their top priorities.

“We must establish operational control of our borders and swiftly remove illegal aliens once they are apprehended,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and one of the bills co-sponsors, in a press release following the bill’s passage by a vote of 239 to 182.

However, the bill was approved largely along party lines. Democrats said it is anti-immigrant.

“We could have given this House a Christmas present of a bipartisan bill that would secure our borders in a real and fair way,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, said in a statement the day before the vote. “Now this bill looks more like a gift from an extremist Grinch than from Santa Claus.”

Thompson voted against the bill.

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