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Katko proposes GOP border security bill: Build walls, hire more Border Patrol agents
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Katko proposes GOP border security bill: Build walls, hire more Border Patrol agents

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Katko Border

U.S. Rep. John Katko stands at a border barrier during a visit to Texas in April. 

U.S. Rep. John Katko is leading a Republican proposal that aims to bolster security at the southern border and resume the construction of a border wall system. 

Katko, R-Camillus, on Thursday introduced the Border Security for America Act. The main provisions of the bill include requiring Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to resume construction of border walls and deploy advanced technologies to support Border Patrol operations. 

The legislation would also mandate the hiring of more Border Patrol agents and officers, and increase the number of officers in specialized areas, such as K-9 units and tunnel detection. 

Katko's bill is in response to what he has frequently called a "crisis" at the border. He has blamed President Joe Biden for the influx of immigrants seeking to cross into the United States. He said Thursday that there have been more than 1.1 million illegal crossings this year, an increase of 362% compared to the same period last year. 

In January, shortly after Biden took office, Katko criticized the president for signing executive actions that reversed some of former President Donald Trump's immigration and border security policies. One of the executive orders Biden signed ended a national emergency Trump declared to divert federal funding for the border wall construction projects. 

After Biden rolled out his immigration agenda, Katko described it as a "shift toward open borders." 

Katko, who serves as the ranking Republican member on the House Homeland Security Committee, has visited the southern border twice this year. He has used both trips to blast Biden's immigration policies. 

"Under President Biden's weak leadership this border crisis knows no limits as every American community bears the brunt of weak border security," Katko said Thursday. "When the southwest border is lawless, it's the fabric of all our communities that suffers. And that is unacceptable." 

He added that the bill "tackles key shortcomings and weaknesses we've seen for ourselves that are fueling the border crisis." 

Katko's legislation is supported by top Republicans, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House Republican Conference chair and an upstate New Yorker, is also backing the bill. 

Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said Katko's bill will reinstitute Trump's "successful border policies." 

"We know these policies work, and Biden's negligence is dangerous to our national security," she added. 

With Republicans in the minority, it is unlikely the legislation will advance in Congress. While the GOP has focused on immigration plans that largely contain security provisions, Democrats have sought solutions that address longstanding immigration problems, such as how to protect people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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