Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fence Bill Cleared for White House

According to Thomas, the Secure Fence Act has been cleared for the White House (as of September 29).

And by the way, in his press conference this morning, the President said he will sign the bill.

Update: The White House posted the transcript of the President's press conference this morning. He sure doesn't seem excited about HR 6061, but I don't see any way he can veto it, given that he clearly implicates he's going to sign it. But it sure is funny that he doesn't say something like 'I'm looking forward to signing this bill!'

Anyway, the relevant portion of the transcript:

Q Thank you. On a different topic. You've said you will sign the border fence bill to build 700 miles of fence along the U.S. border, but DHS has said it prefers a virtual fence of sensors and cameras rather than an actual wall. Are you committed to building the 700 miles of fence, actual fencing?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we're going to do both, Joe. We're just going to make sure that we build it in a spot where it works. I don't -- DHS said they want a virtual wall. I don't believe that's the only thing they've said. I think you might have truncated their statement, because we're actually building fence, and we're building double fence in particular -- in areas where there is a high vulnerability for people being able to sneak in.

You can't fence the entire border, but what you can do is you can use a combination of fencing and technology to make it easier for the Border Patrol to enforce our border. I happen to believe, however, that in order to make sure the border is fully secure, we need a guest worker program, so people aren't sneaking in in the first place.

And so I look forward to not only implementing that which Congress has funded, in a way that says to folks, the American people, we'll enforce our border, but I'm going to continue to campaign and work for a comprehensive bill so that whatever we do in terms of equipment and manpower works better. If somebody is not trying to sneak in to work, in other words, coming through in a way where they're showing a temporary worker pass, where they're not using coyotes to smuggle across, where they're not going through tunnels, it's going to make it much easier for us to do our job, Joe, and that's enforce the border.

And so my judgment is, if the people want this country secure, we've got to do -- have a smart border, which we're in the process of developing now. It's a combination of fencing and technologies -- UAVs, sensors. I don't know if you've ever been down there, but it's a pretty vast part of country down there. It's hard to enforce that border. You've got some rugged country; you've got stretches of territory where you don't even know where the border is. You've got urban areas, like El Paso, or Southern California, where people have been able to sneak in by use of urban corridors. And so, therefore, fencing makes sense there.

I went down to Arizona, the Arizona sector, and saw a place where there's literally neighborhoods abutting the border, and people come -- a hundred of them would rush across the border into a little subdivision, and the Border Patrol would catch two or three, and 97 would get in. And they're asking, what are you going to provide to help us do our job? And in this case, those who are in charge of coming up with the proper strategy to enforce the border said, we need double fencing with space, so that the Border Patrol can use that fencing as leverage against people rushing into the country.

And my only point to you is that the strategy to develop this border requires different assets based on the conditions -- based upon what the terrain looks like. And that's what we're doing.

But I repeat to you, when you've got a situation where people are sneaking in to do jobs Americans aren't doing, it's also going to keep a strain on the border. And so, therefore, a temporary worker plan, to me, makes sense, and it's a much more humane program -- approach, by the way. It will certainly help stamp out all these illegal characters that are exploiting human beings. You know, these coyotes that stuff people in the back of 18-wheelers for money is just -- that's not in character with how this nation works. And I think we ought to -- I think a good program that helps us enforce our border also will see to it that people are treated more humanely.

Thank you for your interest.

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