Border Bill Same Old Smoke and Mirrors

Published on January 23rd, 2015

By Joe Guzzardi
January 23, 2015

For months, immigration enforcement advocates have feared that GOP leadership’s tough talk would be just that—talk, empty words uttered to patronize a skeptical base that it was finally set to challenge President Obama’s executive action. Remember back in November when House Speaker John Boehner promised to fight Obama’s amnesty “tooth and nail?” Throw that out the window.

From the get go, Obama snookered the Republicans. Always wanting to be the center of attraction, Obama’s executive action wasn’t so much about removing illegal immigrants from deportation as it was staying in the limelight and outfoxing the GOP. Obama knew that House Republicans were deeply divided on immigration, and that they wouldn’t be able to get their act together in enough time to block his unconstitutional amnesty.

Since 1986 when President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, Americans have pleaded with Congress to secure the border and double down on interior enforcement. But during the administrations of each successive president after Reagan—Bush, Clinton, and Bush—concerned citizens were thwarted as enforcement dwindled. Today, in Obama’s White House, there’s no longer the remotest pretense of immigration enforcement, and ample evidence that the president wants open borders.

Even though the November election results sent a clear message to congressional Republicans to stop Obama’s executive overreaches, especially on immigration, the GOP is, just as the president anticipated, lining up in favor of amnesty. Earlier this week, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed an amended version of the toothless Secure Our Borders First Act.

The bill, introduced by committee chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas), would require the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to gain and maintain operational control of the United States’ southwestern border within two years. In other words, Obama and Jeh Johnson would have the final say on whether the border is fully protected. Given that Obama and former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano declared the border secure two years before last summer’s Central American surge that saw tens of thousands of aliens enter unchecked, McCaul’s legislation provides cold comfort. Thousands more illegal immigrants can and will arrive while DHS waits to get “operational control.”

McCaul’s bill, called a “Trojan Horse” by U.S. Rep. David Brat (R-Virginia), does nothing to immediately secure the border. Instead it promises to deliver likely-to-be scuttled enforcement measures down the road in exchange for instant amnesty. Take for example the 2006 Secure Fence Act which McCaul pledges to complete to its authorized 700 miles total of double layered fencing. But since 2006, the fence has been stymied by alleged budget shortfalls and for environmental reasons. During the first year after its approval, only five miles of fencing had been completed. Why should Americans expect 2015 be any different from the 2006 failures?

In the end, McCaul’s bill does nothing except dangle carrots in an effort to convince Americans that Congress is doing something positive about ending illegal immigration when it’s just the same old smoke and mirrors.

True immigration reform should include replacing mandatory detention and return for the self-defeating catch-and-release policy. Other essential components of real reform should also provide worksite enforcement, closing asylum loopholes that endanger national security, mandatory E-Verify, an end to ending birthright citizenship and implementation of a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.

The new Republican Congress campaigned on enforcement; now it’s time to deliver.

Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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