Bush will seek $11 billion to police borders

Friday, January 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush will ask Congress to spend roughly $11 billion next year on securing the nation's borders to keep out terrorists who would try to attack the United States by air, land or sea.

The president was going to Portland, Maine, on Friday to announce plans to seek $10.7 billion in next year's budget for border security, an increase of $2.1 billion over this year. He will tour the Coast Guard cutter Tahoma, which raced to the scene in New York Harbor after the Sept. 11 attacks to control sea traffic.

The border security funds are part of an $38 billion homeland security package that Bush announced Thursday. The money will be used to create ``a seamless air, land and sea border'' that weeds out terrorist threats without clogging the free flow of goods and people between countries, the White House said.

Bush also will seek a $1.2 billion increase for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, so more agents and inspectors can be hired to focus on the border with Canada. Work on tightening that border already is under way; Bush's homeland security director Tom Ridge reached an agreement in December with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley.

The Coast Guard stands to receive $2.9 billion under Bush's proposal for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, an increase of $282 million.

The funds would go mainly toward port security missions, a function that once was a small portion of Coast Guard operations but now makes up nearly 60 percent of its daily duties. The guard currently is on a heightened state of alert, and must cover 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline.

The Tahoma, based at New Bedford, Mass., is at sea roughly 185 days a year, interdicting drug traffic and illegal migrants from the North Atlantic to the Caribbean. It was commissioned in April 1988 and has a crew of 100 officers and enlisted personnel.