WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday applauded Senate approval of additional funding for border security. Lieberman co-sponsored an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2005 supplemental spending bill by Senator Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to increase by $390 million what the federal government will spend on border security. The funding represents an advance payment on the increases in border agents and detention beds authorized for FY 2006 spending by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

“Right now, we have a finger-in-the-dike approach to protecting our borders,” Lieberman said. “With just under 11,000 agents protecting 6,000 miles of border, thousands of people enter our country illegally every day. The new Border Patrol agents hired and trained because of this amendment will improve immigration enforcement and strengthen our hand in the war against terrorism.” The Byrd amendment, which was approved by the Senate late Wednesday, would pay for 650 Border Patrol agents, 250 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement investigators, and 168 enforcement agents and detention officers. An additional $10 million would be spent on unmanned aerial vehicles on the Southern border. And $66 million would pay for an additional 2,000 detention beds, allowing the government to house 20,500 aliens at any one time. The Byrd amendment begins to fulfill border security requirements of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, authored by Lieberman and HSGAC Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., which authorized the hiring of an additional 2,000 border agents each year for five years, an additional 800 ICE investigators each year for five years, and the creation of 8,000 additional detention beds each year for five years.