Obama Signs Border Security Bill

President Barack Obama Friday signed a bill that tightens security at the Mexico border, hoping to address the hot issue of illegal immigration in the run-up to November congressional elections. The 600-million-dollar legislation hikes visa fees for some IT workers entering the United States, and has had been slammed by Indian industry. The fee increases pay for 1,000 new US Border Patrol agents to form a "strike force" for quick deployment, 250 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as 250 new Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry. It also boosts communications among law-enforcement officials. The new law nearly doubles fees on visas for skilled workers brought in by companies whose staffs are more than 50 percent foreign, a move that largely affects India's IT and outsourcing industries. US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the fee hike, proposed and approved by Congress, "makes a lot of sense." "What it's saying is that we're going to make sure that we pay for immigration... out of the visa system," she told a White House press briefing. "And that way, it doesn't come out of the general fund, which is necessary for so many other things," she said. "The Senate was able to find a way to fund this bill that doesn't add to the deficit and allows us to get the enforcement monies we need on a permanent basis," she said. She said she did not think the issue would affect relations between the United States and India. "I think the United States and India have a robust and vital relationship, and nothing in this bill should interfere with that," she said. India's National Association of Software and Services Companies has warned that the measures will boost annual US visa costs for the outsourcing industry by 200-250 million dollars annually. India, which already holds at least 50 percent of the global outsourcing market, has become the world's back office where Western firms set up call centers, number-crunching and