December 2, 2014
The Washington Times
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that his department still doesn’t have a firm yardstick for determining whether the border is secure, sparking concern from Republicans who said that’s a fatal flaw as the administration pushes ahead with its temporary amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Mr. Johnson said the Border Patrol has developed some metrics, but he told Congress that he’s asked them to go back and refine the measures.
His predecessor, then-Secretary Janet Napolitano, in 2010 canceled the previous yardstick, defined as miles of the border under “operational control.” She, and later Mr. Johnson, have promised a replacement measure for years, but none has yet been released.
“The Border Patrol has metrics and I’ve asked that they improve upon that,” Mr. Johnson told the House Homeland Security Committee as he began to give some details on the as-yet sketchy program President Obama announced last month to grant a temporary amnesty to nearly 5 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Mr. Johnson also said he’s worried about the potential for fraud in the program he’s about to administer, saying it has “the potential to undermine the whole process.” He said as his department works out the details, he’s asked his staff to take a look at previous best practices for trying to weed out fraud.
One of those best practices is in-person interviews, but that’s unlikely given the size of the population involved.
Border security remains the biggest sticking point on immigration, with Republicans pointing out that Mr. Obama himself had previously said taking the kind of executive action he took last month would lead to a new surge of illegal border crossers.
Asked about that prediction from his boss, Mr. Johnson said he disagreed.
He said his department has drawn a line and will go after illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2014, and he said he hopes would-be illegal immigrants in Central America get that message.
Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said he was skeptical that would be the case.
“You can’t deny the traffickers are going to message this,” Mr. McCaul said.