On Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN correspondent Casey Wian failed to challenge House Speaker Dennis Hastert's false claim that "the Senate [immigration reform] bill doesn't talk about the border at all." In fact, the Senate bill includes a number of border-security provisions.
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Reporting on possible House-Senate negotiations on immigration reform during the July 24 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN correspondent Casey Wian left uncorrected House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) false claim that "the Senate bill doesn't talk about the border at all." In fact, the Senate bill includes a number of provisions aimed at securing the U.S. border.
On May 25, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which the Senate passed with bipartisan support, includes the following border-security measures, in addition to a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants:
- Increase the strength of the Border Patrol by adding 14,000 new agents (2,000 for the first year and 2,400 each year for the following five years).
- Increase immigration enforcement throughout the nation by adding 200 "Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators."
- Add 2,500 "point-of-entry inspectors" at 500 per year for five years.
- Add 1,000 positions, at 200 per year for five years, to "investigate alien smuggling."
- Construct "no less than 370 miles of triple-layered fencing" and "500 miles of vehicle barriers in other areas along the southwest border" within two years.
- Replace damaged fencing and add fencing "not less than two miles beyond urban areas" within two years.
- Procure "unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, poles, sensors," and other equipment for border control, and "establish a security perimeter known as a 'virtual fence.' "
- "[I]ncrease the availability and use of Defense Department equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles, tethered aerostat radars, and other surveillance equipment."
- "[C]onstruct all-weather roads and acquire additional vehicle barriers and facilities necessary to achieve operational control of the international borders of the United States."
- Allow permanent and temporary "checkpoints" to be set up on roads inside the United States near the border with Mexico.
- Improve existing "ports of entry along the international land borders" and build new ones "at locations to be determined."
- Develop a program with Mexico and Canada to improve the security of Mexico's southern border -- a known route for illegal immigrants coming to the United States from other Central American and South American countries.
As Media Matters for America noted, host Lou Dobbs similarly claimed on May 23 that an earlier version of the Senate immigration bill, which contained many of the same security provisions, would do "absolutely nothing for border security."
From the July 24 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: We begin first, with Casey Wian -- Casey.
WIAN: Lou, lawmakers say they're finally getting serious about border security. If the effort is sincere, it can't come soon enough, because we have new video showing just how wide open our southern border remains.
WIAN: House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other congressmen toured the Mexican border this weekend, trying to win support for the House's "border security first" approach to immigration reform.
HASTERT [video clip]: I believe and I think most of our members believe that the -- protecting the border is the number one thing that we have to do. And in any bill that we pass -- that, you know, the Senate bill doesn't talk about the border at all. And so any bill we pass has to protect the border.
WIAN: There's new evidence of that critical need. Lou Dobbs Tonight has obtained this exclusive video shot by a private border surveillance group east of San Diego. Here's a smuggler on the Mexican side signaling to a group of border crossers that the coast is clear, it's time to head north.