Past Features

October 12, 2017

What is the goal of border security?

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Glenn Spencer -- October 12, 2017
Obama edict still holding up a border security metric?
    In a recent markup of a new border security bill offered by Chairman McCaul, ranking member Thompson offered an amendment that would incorporate H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act of 2013.
    Ranking member Thompson: "I'd like to ask for unanimous consent to enter into the record the opening statement of Chairman McCaul at the markup of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act of 2013, on May 15, 2013.”
    Here is that opening statement.
    The Thompson amendment was defeated, principally on the objection that HR 1417 set an arbitrary goal of 90 percent apprehension of illegal border crossers. Rep. Scott Perry observed:
   
 "While I agree with metrics to inform us --- what works better than others --- and what works as well as other things over time, that informs us as to where we should spend scarce resources and direct our attention as the situation changes, but I don't see any reason to ever relax from the standard that we must do our best on every single occasion and stop people that shouldn't be in our country....”
    Youtube video of Rep. Perry's remarks.
    The goal of ninety percent apprehension raises the question of 90 percent of what and when? It reminded me of the "Zeno's Paradoxes and Calculus" Paradox that is, if we apply the rule each year it would become increasingly difficult to reach the goal --- and could eventually take the entire national budget to reach zero.
    From Chairman McCaul's H.R. 1417 Opening Statement:
    
That goal is a secure border, where we apprehend the overwhelming majority of illegal crossers and illicit materials, and at the same time facilitate the legitimate trade and travel that grows our economy.
    With that as a guide, we have defined Operational Control in this bill based on the oversight work of the Committee. It is a reflection of testimony from the Chief of the Border Patrol – a 90% standard for success. [...]

   
"Instead, security it must be based on hard and verifiable facts. This bill calls on the Administration to develop a series of measures at and between the ports of entry and in the maritime environment that are based on effectiveness.
    Passage of this legislation will ensure that the American people can be confident that when we say we are secure, it's actually based on something tangible and measurable."
    With the exception of the misguided 90 percent goal, McCaul's ideas for a border metric were excellent.
    Nine years ago I suggested that candidate McCain use a trigger mechanism such that when more than twenty thousand got passed the Border Patrol we would begin debate over comprehensive immigration reform. This doesn't mean we would stop working toward reducing getaways to zero, only that we would move ahead only after the 20,000 goal had been reached.
    Too bad Ranking Member Thompson didn't include this small change to his amendment.
    Once again, the issue of proper a metric for border security was not properly addressed in the McCaul bill. Could it be that we are still suffering under the Obama edict?
    
"Obama administration officials said on Thursday that they had resisted producing a single measure to assess the border because the president did not want any hurdles placed on the pathway to eventual citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. "--- New York Times, March 21, 2013
    
NOTE: Did McCaul include a metric in his Border Security Results Act of 2013 because he knew Obama wouldn't sign it? Did he exclude it from the Border Security for America Act of 2017 because he knew Trump would?

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