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Department of Justice Announces New Funding Request for Southwest Border Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Today, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced $100 million in new funding as part of the fiscal year 2009 budget request for the Administration’s Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative. If funded by Congress, the new resources will better enable the United States to combat the flow of illegal immigration, drugs, and weapons across our Southwest Border, and to arrest, detain, prosecute, and incarcerate violent criminals, drug offenders, and immigration violators along the Southwest Border.

“Support for the full range of law enforcement operations along our Southwest Border is absolutely critical,” said Attorney General Mukasey. “I recently had the chance to visit with federal law enforcement officials along the border and saw firsthand the immense challenges they face and the importance of resources to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs, and weapons, ultimately making our communities and nation safer.”

The Department of Justice’s FY 2009 budget request contains over $100 million in new resources, including 265 additional positions, to fight criminal activity at the border. The amount includes over $20.4 million for the Drug Enforcement Administration, $9.6 million for Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement, over $12.7 million for the U.S. Marshals Service, over $37.5 million for the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, $10 million for the Executive Office for Immigration and Review, and $8.4 million for U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.

The Southwest Border of the United States is the principal arrival zone for most illicit drugs smuggled into the United States, as well as the predominant staging area for the subsequent distribution of drugs throughout the country. Given the magnitude of the threat, it is imperative that new resources be added to disrupt further the organizations responsible for the movement of illicit drugs, proceeds, and weapons across the Southwest Border and to bring their leaders to justice.

The funding request is also important to ensure that the border does not become the means by which terrorists enter the United States or smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States using routes and methods established by drug and alien smugglers. Funds are included in the budget request to combat the flow of illegal firearms from the United States into Mexico, an issue highlighted recently in discussions between Attorney General Mukasey and Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza.

In addition, the workload along the Southwest Border for Department of Justice agencies such as the U.S. Attorneys and the U.S. Marshals Service has increased dramatically in recent years as a result of increased efforts of partner federal agencies. The Department of Justice estimates that over 24,000 criminal immigration cases will be filed by U.S. Attorneys over the next two years because of the increase in Border Patrol agents in recent years—from approximately 9,000 agents in FY 2001 to an expected 18,000 by the end of FY 2008.

For more information on the additional funds included in the Justice Department budget for the Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative, please refer to the accompanying Fact Sheet.