- (Reuters) - Saying "we're looking, we're
President Bush on Friday proposed spending an extra $2.1 billion to secure
U.S. borders and keep out foreigners who might try to launch attacks like
those on Sept. 11.
- The money, which Bush will seek in the budget he sends
to Congress on Feb. 4, would be used to hire more border patrol agents,
safeguard ports and track foreign nationals without disrupting trade with
neighboring Canada and Mexico.
- Three of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks that
killed more than 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania
were discovered to have been living in the United States illegally on
- Previewing next week's State of the Union address, Bush
also put Americans on notice that the war on terrorism, launched after
the Sept. 11 attacks, was far from over. He called Afghanistan "the
first theater" but did not say where the United States might strike
- "We're looking, we're listening, we're following
every single lead," Bush said against the backdrop of Portland's
about 120 miles from the Canadian border.
- Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz
Alomari, stayed overnight in Portland before flying to Boston to catch
American Airlines Flight 11 which they flew into the World Trade Center.
Bush did not mention them in his speech.
- The bulk of Bush's proposed spending increase for border
security -- $1.2 billion -- would go to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) to help it more than double its border patrol agents and
- Bush said the Coast Guard, which he hailed for its swift
response to the September attacks, would receive the largest budget
in its more than 200-year history.
- "PRICE OF VICTORY"
- The Customs Service and an Agriculture Department
program will also receive large increases in funding as part of Bush's
proposed $10.7 billion budget for securing the nation's borders with Canada
- "We're analyzing every aspect of the border and
making sure that the effort is seamless, that the communication is real
(and) that the enforcement is strong," Bush said.
- Caught off guard by the September attacks, Bush has vowed
to spend what it takes to defeat global terrorism and protect Americans,
helping to push the federal budget into deficits at the expense of other
spending priorities in a congressional election year.
- He already has announced plans to boost military spending
by $48 billion, the biggest rise in two decades and proposed almost
spending on homeland security to $37.7 billion in 2003 to protect Americans
from future terrorist attacks.
- "The price of victory is well worth it," Bush
- But in seeking to secure the country's borders, the
faces what may be an impossible task: screening out would-be attackers
without slowing down the roughly 500 million people, 11.2 million trucks
and 2.2 million railway cars that cross into the country each year.
- The United States and Canada have already signed an
to tighten security by developing permanent resident cards and a joint
immigration database. U.S. officials fear the 5,500 mile border between
the United States and Canada could be exploited by the al Qaeda network
of Osama bin Laden, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks.
- BORDER SECURITY PACTS
- A similar border security pact is in the works with
A team of U.S. officials led by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge will
visit Mexico in early March to discuss immigration, trade and border
- "It is so important for our nations to work with
our friend to the north, Canada, and our friend to the south, Mexico, on
border initiatives" to prevent "illegal drugs, terrorists, arms
from flowing across our border," he said.
- Under Bush's border security plan, the INS's budget for
enforcement will increase by $1.2 billion to $5.3 billion in fiscal 2003.
Bush said the goal was to ensure INS agents "know who comes in our
country and who leaves our country" and to "make sure that
not part of some al Qaeda network that wants to hit the United
- Bush also called for boosting the Coast Guard's budget
for homeland security by $282 million to $2.9 billion to help it shoulder
its expanded role in protecting ports as well as key coastal sites like
oil refineries and power plants.
- The president proposed raising the Customs Service's
inspection budget by $619 million to $2.3 billion to hire 800 new agents
and buy high-tech equipment to inspect shipments.
- The smallest item in Bush's proposal is a $14 million
increase in the Agriculture Department's quarantine inspection program.
The new money would allow the department to deploy more inspectors and
X-Ray machines to screen people entering by land as well as more inspectors
and dog teams to check high-risk cargo.