(Oct. 6) President Bush signed legislation Oct. 4 that will provide $33.8 billion in funding for homeland security. Many provisions of the bill are aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, including $1.2 billion for about 700 miles of fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill also provides funding for adding 1,500 agents to the Border Patrol. Bush said the number of Border Patrol agents had increased from about 9,000 to 12,000 during his two terms, and he has called for a total of 18,000 agents by the end of 2008.

The legislation also includes funding for 6,700 new beds in detention centers, barriers, lighting, radar and infrared cameras. Bush said the changes were necessary because of the toll illegal immigrants were putting on public education and the health care system.

Outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox told The Associated Press that fencing the U.S.-Mexico border was “shameful” and compared it to the Berlin Wall.

Bush again called for comprehensive immigration reform, including a “legal way for people to work here on a temporary basis,” the AP reported.

The bill was signed at a time when many U.S. growers are struggling to find workers. The Washington Post reported Oct. 4 that 30% of the pear crop in northern California was not harvested, and 33% of Florida’s valencia crop wasn’t picked because of the labor shortage.

The bill also authorizes $3.4 billion for port security during the next fives years and will require the 22 largest U.S. ports to install radiation detectors by the end of next year, The Associated Press reported.

The Wall Street Journal criticized the bill because a House-Senate committee — under pressure from unions — removed a provision that would have prevented felons from working in dock security. The Journal also said a recent investigation by the Department of Homeland Security showed that nearly half of the truckers checked entering New York and New Jersey ports had criminal records.