WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama signed into law a $600 million border security bill that provides funding for 1,500 new agents, for unmanned drones along the border and other security measures in the Southwestern United States.
The bill passed in the Senate on Thursday by unanimous consent, with two senators – Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ben Cardin, D-Md. – returning from their August recess to resolve a procedural error in the bill. The Senate adjourned for August recess on Friday, the day the president signed the bill.
The House passed the bill when it returned from its summer break last Tuesday.
The bill appropriates $600 million to hire 1,500 new border patrol agents, provide unmanned aerial drones, which feed data on illegal border crossings to field agents, and buy new communications equipment to streamline contact between federal agents and state and local officials along the border.
The bill answers Obama’s promise to put more “boots on the ground” along the country’s southwest border.
“The resources made available through this legislation will build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the southwest border and across the country,” Obama said in a statement Thursday.
The measure targets gun, drug and human smuggling and trafficking rings as well as money launderers and other organized criminals.
It establishes bases along the southwest U.S. border to enable border officials to more easily detain people who are apprehended along the border.
The bill also increases the number of Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI officials in the region, and provides funding for border security measures through Sept. 30.
It is paid for in part by raising fees on companies that exploit a federal visa program by employing a high percentage of foreign temporary workers, essentially creating multinational temp agencies, often in the technology industry. The companies move foreign temp workers among various short-term jobs, collecting consulting and placement fees along the way.
On the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer said he hoped the bill would reignite the debate over comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. The bill will “clear the path for restarting the bipartisan discussions … on how best to restore the rule of law to our entire immigration system,” he said.
Obama said the new legislation would contribute toward broader immigration reform.
“[T]hese steps will make an important difference as my administration continues to work with Congress toward bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, and restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system,” he said.