U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a $600 million border security bill into law, addressing a issue that will be prominent in mid-term elections later this year.
Mr. Obama signed the bill Friday at the White House, alongside Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
After the signing, Napolitano told reporters the legislation adds permanent resources that will help bolster security along the 3,200-kilometer-long U.S. border with Mexico.
She said the Obama administration's efforts have already reduced illegal border crossings and increased the number of removals of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. She said the country needs a safe and secure border, and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The measure will pay for 1,000 extra border patrol agents and provide for the hiring of hundreds of new customs and immigration officials.
The bill passed its final hurdles this week, with both the Senate and the House of Representatives holding a rare August session to vote on it.
The measure will also fund two additional unmanned surveillance planes to operate along the border area.
Immigration has been the subject of contentious argument this year, as the southwestern border state of Arizona enacted a law in April that would require police to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. A judge has put that provision on hold, along with one requiring immigrants to carry their immigration documents with them at all times.
Supporters of the Arizona measure signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer say it is needed to combat crime blamed on illegal immigrants, saying the federal government has not done its part.
Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling by police.
Article by VOA News