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Obama cuts threaten border security?

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WASHINGTON – The Budget Control Act, which is requiring a mandatory $85 billion in budget cuts on March 1, will have a major impact on maintaining border security, especially at a time when drug cartels and illegal immigrants are finding their way into U.S. cities, primarily from the Southwest, federal officials say in report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

A House Committee on Appropriations minority report issued by the panel’s Democrats said that border security entities under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would substantially deteriorate with cutbacks and furloughs of Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents up to two weeks.

The impact of sequestration would be enormous. It would diminish border security, increase wait times at U.S. ports of entry and at airports, affect aviation and maritime safety and security and leave critical infrastructure more vulnerable to attacks, as well as affect disaster response, it said.

There also would be an almost complete halt to DHS’s research and development into bio-medical, explosives and cyber counter-measures.

In fiscal year 2012, for example, DHS’ Science and Technology took a 53-percent hit in its research and development budget, forcing the department’s S&T and R&D for its 20-some agencies to downsize from 250 projects to some 75.

Sequestration would further aggravate these already dramatic cuts, according to Daniel Gerstein, deputy under secretary for S&T, in a recent interview with the magazine Homeland Security Today.

The congressional report echoed the concerns by saying that sequestration would “cut disaster resiliency research by 50 percent, which would eliminate work to provide the ability to quickly restore facilities to use in the event of a chemical or biological event, stop work on protecting the grid from brown-outs and blackouts and eliminate funding for research into making tunnels more resilient to flooding.”

“Border security research also would be cut 50 percent, eliminating tunnel detection work, cargo security at the borders, small aircraft detection and interdiction and maritime security,” the report said.

The S&T directorate alone would be forced to reduce bio-threat detection and assessment and resiliency by 40 percent, eliminating most of the planned research on “next generation bio-threat detection methods, reducing the nation’s threat assessment capability and eliminating work to develop tools for first responders to assess and characterize the size and severity of a chemical/biological attack,” the report said.

Cyber security research would suffer a 30-percent cut, eliminating work in such areas as data privacy, identity management, security for cloud-based systems, Internet attack modeling and cyber security forensics, according to the report.

If that weren’t enough, the report said that the magnitude of the sequester on S&T “would eliminate virtually all funding targeted at mass transit protection, including such things as the ability to detect explosives safely at a distance, the ability to detect threats on left behind packages and bags and threat detection on individuals.”

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