HR 1091, the Long Overdue Border Security Bill

Published on March 22nd, 2011

In its March 21 legislative alert, CAPS urged concerned Americans to FAX their U.S. Representatives in support of Duncan Hunter’s HR 1091, The Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act which would authorize an additional 350 miles of fencing along the border between Mexico and the United States. Hunter was prompted by a Government Accountability Office report which found that only 44 percent of the Southwest border is under operational control and a smaller 15 percent is airtight. Stated another way, 56 percent of our border with Mexico is open to anyone who wants to enter the United States. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made repeated statements since she assumed office claiming that the border is secure. In June at a conference of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Napolitano said: “You’re never going to totally seal that border.” But the GAO report exposed Napolitano’s deception by noting that only 129 miles are “under full control.” In response to the GAO’s findings, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued this statement: “It is outrageous that the DHS officials would make claims that the border is secure when according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the Border Patrol has ‘operational control’ over less than half of the Southwest border.” Smith accused administration officials of either being “blissfully unaware of massive holes in security” or “intentionally misleading the American people.” The GAO report came during the same week that a Mexican drug cartel killed a federal agent and wounded another. Hunter’s bill would also give DHS the authority to build additional infrastructure to the 350 miles of fencing as needed. To help monitor the fence’s effectiveness, HR 1091 would mandate DHS to report to Congress any increase of 40 percent or more in apprehensions at any border sector and then submit a plan to secure that region. The proposed border fence has long been a contentious issue. Recent presidential administrations and their open borders supporters have delayed fence construction at every opportunity while enforcement advocates have unsuccessfully demanded more progress. Specious arguments against a fence include that it’s “inhumane” and that nothing will keep illegal aliens from coming to the United States so why bother? But in sectors like San Diego where fencing was constructed, apprehensions plummeted, a sure sign that it was successful. And Mexico, the biggest proponent of the “inhumane” criticism, is building a fence on its Southern border to keep Guatemalans out. Secure, extensive fencing is one approach to ending illegal immigration that has never been tried. Although estimates vary on what the completed project may cost, it would certainly be a small fraction of the $700 billion 2011 fiscal year defense department budget or the $1.3 trillion spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last decade. Whatever the fence’s monetary cost may be, it would be offset by the money saved from providing services to millions of illegal aliens and the peace of mind gained by knowing our borders are secure from possible terrorist invasion.

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