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More wall, border technology proposed for fiscal 2025

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — With the start of the Fiscal Year 2025 less than four months away, lawmakers are proposing increasing funds for border technology, the number of migrant detention beds, and more border wall construction.

The House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee this week held hearings on how much to fund Border Patrol and other border security measures.

This includes $600 million for new federal border barriers, according to the Republican-led subcommittee.

The committee also is proposing funding for a total of 22,000 Border Patrol agents nationwide, which would be at the same level as in Fiscal Year 2024.

However, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, a senior member on the subcommittee, said Friday there are currently only 19,000 Border Patrol agents nationwide.

Cuellar told Border Report that the agency is having trouble recruiting Border Patrol agents.

“It’s going to be very hard to meet that goal. And I’ll tell you different reasons why. One thing is that there’s attrition. People leave Border Patrol, because it’s tough,” Cuellar said.

He says attrition and retirements and an inability to attract recruits to work on the border is hurting the agency.

“It’s a very difficult job that Border Patrol does, especially when they’re stationed in very rural areas,” Cuellar said.

Funds for $160 million in Border Patrol overtime has been added into the bill as an inducement to attract agents, he said.

The committee also is proposing:

  • $305 million for additional non-intrusive inspection border technology.
  • $171.4 million to sustain current border security technology programs, including autonomous security towers, tactical aerostats, cross-border tunnel detection, and counter drones.
  • $90 million for Operation Stonegarden funding to provide federal resources to local law enforcement agencies in border communities.
  • Funding 50,000 detention beds nationwide, up 8,500 from current levels.

The committee also wants $822.7 million for flights and ground transportation to remove the more than 1.3 million migrants who are in this country but have final orders of removal.

It’s uncertain if this will be enough for the thousands of migrants who are expected to be added for removal under President Joe Biden’s new executive orders regarding asylum claims.

The order announced Tuesday and denies asylum claims when the number of encounters of migrants in between legal ports of entry exceed a daily average of 2,500 during a seven-day period, with a few exceptions.

During a call with reporters on Friday, a senior administration official said the new rules raise the bar on asylum claims from a “reasonable possibility” and requires migrants to show they have a “reasonable probability” for asylum. “That is substantially higher,” the official said.

Cuellar says currently there are 4,000 encounters daily and the order is fully in effect.

A senior administration official on Friday said there have already been 17 repatriation flights since Wednesday, including sending migrants to Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador and two flights to Uzbekistan in central Asia.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.

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