WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a $600 million measure that will put more agents and equipment along the Mexican border.
The package will pay for deploying an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents along the Southwest border, hiring 250 new Customs and Border Protection officers and adding 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to target drug smuggling.
The funding also will add two unstaffed surveillance planes and boost the Department of Justice's resources for investigating and prosecuting organized drug gangs.
The measure offsets costs by substantially hiking the fees on visas on companies that hire foreign workers — from $320 to as much as $2,750 each.
The fees would be imposed on companies that hire 50 or more foreign workers or have 50 percent of their staff on certain foreign visas.
It also provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unstaffed surveillance drones.
Some Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, say that while the legislation is a start, it falls short by not dramatically increasing the number of customs inspectors along the border and not funding a program that charges illegal immigrants with low-level crimes.