The Dept. of Homeland Security reports that it soon will begin putting $600 million in recently appropriated funds to use along the Southwest border. An emergency supplemental spending bill for border security, signed into law on Aug. 13, will finance two new DHS operating bases along the border to improve coordination of security activities there.

Funds from the spending measure also will permit the department to increase the number of audits of companies to deter violations of employment-verification laws. In an update released Aug. 30,

DHS said that, since January 2009, it has audited more than 2,785 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor, including some construction-related firms. DHS also has debarred more than 100 companies and issued more than $6.4 million in fines. The number of audits has increased significantly: In fiscal 2007, DHS conducted 254 audits; in fiscal 2010, it performed 1,641 through July 31.

DHS says it plans to finish work by the end of December on 652 miles of non-contiguous fence, along the border Mexico and Texas, Arizona and California. To date, 298.5 miles of vehicle barriers and 348 miles of pedestrian fence have been completed.