Recently, the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee sent a new immigration bill to the House floor for consideration. H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act, represents yet another unrealistic piece of legislation from the House Republicans that in no way reflects the needs or the realities of the American immigration system.
The Secure Our Borders First Act
The Act proposes to mandate that within two years, the U.S. government must take 100 percent “operational control” of areas deemed to be high-immigration traffic areas, and 100 percent control of the whole Southern border in five years. The Act defines “operational control” as the prevention of all unlawful immigration-related entries into the United States territory.
To accomplish this total operation control, the Act would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy a whole host of military-grade technology on the Southern border. This technology would include implementing tower-based and radar-based surveillance, increasing Border Patrol staff, flying drones, conducting subterranean reconnaissance, and more. The Act also requires the DHS to build at least 12 more bases on the Southern border, to construct approximately 120 more miles of border fencing, and to pave approximately 1,800 miles of new roads. To accomplish these measures, adherence to all applicable environmental protection laws is waived.
If these measures are not accomplished within the prescribed two-year and five-year time periods, the responsible DHS leaders will be penalized through disqualification for salary increases.
Responses to the Act
Unsurprisingly, the response to the ridiculous Secure Our Borders First Act has not been laudatory. The DHS Secretary, Mr. Jeh Johnson, said the bill did not represent a “serious effort” from the Committee, and he predicted that it would be “unworkable, plain and simple,” if it were actually enacted by Congress.
Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently issued its own independent analysis of the bill, which confirms Secretary Johnson’s predictions. The CBO’s analysis candidly states that the DHS would simply be unable to implement the mandate measures within the prescribed timeframes, and it argues that – if past experience with legislative deadlines can be any indicator of success – the DHS’ attempts to meet the timeframes would greatly increase the spending needs for the projects.
The silver lining to this otherwise outrageous bill is that it will almost certainly never be enacted. If the House of Representatives passed the bill, it would still need to go to the Senate which would surely reject it. Additionally, even if the bill somehow made it past the Senate and to the President’s desk, he would unquestionably veto it.
While it is comforting to know that the Secure Our Borders First Act will not become a legislative reality, its zero-chance of success is all the more frustrating given that America continues to wait for Congress to introduce realistic comprehensive immigration reform measures.
U.S. lawmakers would do well to review their previous immigration enforcement plans before drafting new legislation. The 1994 strategic plan for the Border Patrol also stated outright that a 100 percent success rate of apprehending unauthorized entrants at the border is unrealistic. Congress and the country as a whole would be better served if lawmakers turned their efforts to the true task at hand of fixing the immigration system. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date news on the executive action and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts
Immigration Judges Request Separation from the Department of Justice, ImmigRantings, August 19, 2013
Congress Attempts to Implement Measures to Protect Immigrants from Notarios, ImmigRantings, September 27, 2013