President Bush says the government is spending more money to boost security at America's borders and cut illegal immigration. Democrats say the president should do more to help poor people pay their heating bills at a time of record fuel prices.
President Bush says the Homeland Security bill he signed this past week makes the nation safer by keeping more illegal immigrants out and dealing more quickly with those who get in.
"To defend this country, we have to enforce our borders," said President Bush. "When our borders are not secure, terrorists, drug dealers, and criminals find it easier to sneak into America. My administration has a clear strategy for dealing with this problem. We want to stop people from crossing into America illegally, and to quickly return the illegal immigrants we catch back to their home countries."
The president says more than $2 billion in new funding will be used to hire 1,000 new border patrol agents, improve technology and intelligence, and enhance fencing, lighting, vehicle barriers, and roads along the border.
The new legislation also contains more than $3 billion for immigration and customs enforcement to expand the holding capacity of detention facilities by 10 percent. Mr. Bush says that will help the government hold more non-Mexicans who are often told to come back for a court appearance and never return, slipping into America's illegal immigrant sub-culture.
The president says he has a different plan for Mexicans who cross the border illegally. Instead of escorting them back across the border, he wants them flown or bused all the way back to their hometowns farther inside Mexico. He says that will save lives and make it more difficult for them to cross right back into the United States.
In the Democratic radio address, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor criticized the president and the Republican-controlled Congress for giving tax breaks in this year's energy bill to oil companies at a time of record high gas prices.
"We simply must do a better job of putting the needs of all Americans over the wants of a privileged few," said Mark Pryor. "President Bush and some of my Republican colleagues have been too quick to advocate tax cuts for special interests as the cure-all for our economic ills."
Following hurricanes that damaged oil refineries along America's Gulf Coast , Senator Pryor says consumers need protection from petroleum price gouging and low-income families need help paying home-heating bills.