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lllegal migration fight is spared Obama budget ax

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2011 (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget blueprint aims to cut overall US spending, but would dig deeper to shore up border security and combat illegal immigration, the US Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

Peggy Sherry, the acting chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said the federal government planned increased outlays for the purchase of smart technology to be deployed on the US-Mexico border.

The department also planned to hire 12,000 more border agents, officials said, which would dramatically increase its a current force of some 21,000 border police and agents.

The addition would result in the deployment of record numbers of US agents to stop illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States, officials said.

The proposed increase in spending comes as the number of of undocumented immigrants in the United States has leveled off at about 11 million, after rising for two decades, according to a study released earlier this month by the Pew Hispanic Center.

As the number of illegal immigrants entering the country has decreased, deportations have gone up over the past two years, the study said.

DHS is also requesting some $242 million to upgrade technology in the fight against drug smuggling into the United States by Mexican drug cartels.

Turf wars over smuggling routes have claimed the lives of some 34,000 people in Mexico over the past four years, after the federal government tasked the military with cracking down on the drug trade.

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