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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 02:21 GMT 03:21 UK
Big boost for US border security
By James Coomerasamy
BBC News, Washington

US Customs and Border Protection officer inspects a car at El Paso, Texas
Border control is an issue as part of planned immigration reforms
The US Senate has voted to allocate an extra $1.9bn (1bn) to strengthening the country's border security.

The money will come from funds that were due to finance operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as rebuilding work following Hurricane Katrina.

It will be used to fund measures such as repairing or replacing vehicles used by border patrol agents.

The decision comes as senators are attempting to reach agreement on a comprehensive immigration bill.

Republicans hope it will strengthen political supports for efforts to pass a package of broad immigration reforms.

Right-wingers believe too much emphasis has been placed on plans for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship and not enough on enforcing current laws.

Electoral issue

But Democrats opposed to the amendments argue that the border funding should be on top of, not instead of, the current military allocation.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton said it would "take money from troop pay, body armour and even the joint improvised explosive device defeat fund".

"Now that is a false choice and it is a wrong choice," she added.

So once again, Democrats are attempting to paint Republicans as being weak on national security - a ploy they hope will serve them well in November's mid-term elections.

But for the moment, Republicans have control of Congress and this amendment appears to make a compromise on immigration more likely.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
US Senator Hillary Clinton on why she is against the move



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