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Our Opinion: Border safety overtime makes sense

October 29, 2001

President Bush has signed into law legislation that lifts the cap on how much overtime pay U.S. Border Patrol agents and other immigration authorities can receive. The law was signed as part of the expanding effort to protect the country against terrorism.

We applaud that action. It directly affects the Imperial Valley since it is a border community that depends on the security provided by federal agencies such as the Border Patrol, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Customs Service.

We know about the added strain placed on federal authorities in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. Agents whose job it has been to guard the border — preventing the smuggling of drugs and people and preventing deaths brought about by illegal immigration — have found themselves with a new duty.

They are the first lines of defense against any terrorists attempting to enter the country. They are a critical part of the country's effort to stop terrorism. That means they are going to be putting in longer hours.

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We would hate to think our security could be breached because there is a cap on the overtime agents can work. The government must do everything it can to guard against terrorist attacks, and that means making more money available to make sure the county is protected 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The chances are slim that we have seen the last attempt at violence against the country. Terrorists still have the power to hurt us. We have said we are strong, and now we must prove it.

President Bush has gone a long way in the last month and a half in showing we are strong and the country will not bow to terrorist threats.

We are confident federal agents at the border are alert and prepared to do what is necessary to keep more terrorists from touching American soil. This latest action will help in that effort. Nothing is ever foolproof, but every step taken allows us to sleep a little bit better at night.

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