House OKs $9 million for local INS projects

July 20, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A $38.5 billion appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday includes $9 million for Immigration and Naturalization Service construction projects in El Centro, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, announced Thursday.

Overall, the bill includes $5.6 billion for the INS but still must pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president. The bill includes money for the hiring of 570 new Border Patrol agents nationwide.

Of the construction money, $6 million is slated for the under-construction Border Patrol station on Aten Road and $3 million for the INS processing center on Imperial Ave.

Border Patrol spokesman Arturo Sandoval said the money for the station would be used to further its construction, including the building itself and holding cells.


Sandoval was asked if he knew how many new agents might be stationed in El Centro.

"You have the whole southwest border to deal with, so I don't know how many will be stationed here," he said.

Nora Antunez, assistant officer in charge at the processing center, said there are a number of projects pending and said the money brings good news.

"We are expecting some funding for an expansion and renovation," she said.

In a press release from Hunter's office, Hunter stated he will request that as many agents as possible be assigned to the El Centro and San Diego Border Patrol sectors.

"Controlling illegal immigration remains a top priority for San Diego and Imperial counties," Hunter's statement says. "This funding will assist border enforcement efforts by providing the U.S. Border Patrol with the resources it needs to make our communities safe."

The bill, H.R. 2500, also includes $3 million for the continued construction of a multi-barrier fencing project in San Diego County and $565 million for the state criminal alien assistance program, which provides reimbursement to states for the cost of incarcerating criminal aliens.

Hunter spokesman Mike Harrison said he is unsure how much of that would go toward California.

A January 2001 study by San Diego State University states the estimated total cost of illegal aliens for fiscal 1999 was $5.43 million for Imperial County and $50.26 million for San Diego County.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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