Immigration reform promises border security. Prove it, Republicans say. (+video)
The Senate immigration reform bill aims to apprehend 90 percent of potential border-crossers in high-risk areas within five years after passage, but Republicans question the plan.
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What the bill does require is for the secretary of Homeland Security to lay out two plans: one for general border security and one specifically on border fencing, in order to reach a 90 percent apprehension rate over the next half-decade. If those fail, the committee of border state eminences must make the call.Skip to next paragraph
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“I don't know what happens if the commission doesn't do anything,” said Senator Paul, who asked earlier this week that the Homeland Security Committee be allowed to amend the bill, after it passes the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it currently resides.
Paul compared the bill to President Obama’s signature health-care law, in the sense that it has nearly 2,000 references to issues that a cabinet secretary (in this case, usually of the Department of Homeland Security) will have to decide in the future.
Why isn’t Congress making the rules, Paul questioned.
“We don't write bills around here,” he added, with some scorn. “We should write the bill. We should write the plan.”
Mr. Fisher and others said that the bill’s funding and comprehensive approach to the immigration issue would allow authorities to shore up efforts that have, alongside changing economic conditions on both sides of the Rio Grande, produced a net flow of no illegal immigration in recent years.
“I think because of the work-site enforcement, because of the technology deployment, because of the streamlining of immigration laws, if you put all of that together, our ability to have better control of the borders, I think, will also improve,” said David Heyman an assistant secretary for policy at the Department for Homeland Security (DHS). “And so we're confident that it's the right formula.”
Senate GOP sponsors, too, say that the bill's border security provisions could be strengthened – and must be for the bill to pass.
"The federal government’s failure to enforce the law in the past has left people with little confidence in its ability to do so in the future," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, in a statement. "That is why in order for this bill to become law, it will have to be improved to bolster border security and enforcement even further and to limit the federal government’s discretionary power in applying the law."
While Coburn lauded DHS for producing better border security data “than what we've ever had before” he added that conservative support for the bill won’t turn on data – but it may very well hinge on how effective lawmakers think those changes will be.
“The question is whether or not [the changes are] adequate, because if we had 98 percent control and the 2 percent [left uncontrolled] were terrorists, we wouldn't think that was control,” he said.
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