WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) The US Senate approved funding to keep up to 6,000 National Guard troops deployed along the US border with Mexico.
The measure, approved on a voice voice, is an amendment to a nearly 460 billion dollars defense appropriations bill for the fiscal year that began on Monday. The amendment added 794 million dollars to fund the National Guard force at the border.
President George W. Bush ordered 6,000 National Guard troops to the border last May in a move to help the US Customs and Border Protection agency cut the flow of illegal immigrants crossing north.
About 3,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed in the border security program, which was slated to end on July 1, 2008. That figure is down from 6,000 in May.
Sen Jeff Sessions, author of the amendment, yesterday said the additional funding would allow the National Guard mission to continue throughout next year.
''The number of illegal aliens attempting to cross the border has decreased by about 25 per cent since National Guard troops were deployed. This program is a proven success and it would be unthinkable to back away so soon from this critical part of our border enforcement strategy,'' Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said in a statement.
The US House of Representatives has passed its own version of the bill and the two chambers will have to resolve their differences before adopting a final version.
REUTERS PD HT0920