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Jewish World Review
March 26, 2013/ 15 Nissan, 5773
Is the border secure? This administration has no idea
If Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, it will depend on the Obama administration to enforce the law. How might that work?
A glimpse of the future came recently, when the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a little-noticed hearing titled "Measuring Outcomes to Understand the State of Border Security."
Immigration reform depends on a secure border. Nearly every lawmaker pushing reform, and certainly every Republican, stresses that the border must be proved secure before millions of currently illegal immigrants can be placed on a path to citizenship.
But how do you measure border security? For years, the government estimated the number of miles of the border that were under "operational control" and came up with various ways to define what that meant.
Then the Department of Homeland Security threw out the concept of operational control, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called "archaic." The administration promised to create something called the Border Condition Index, or BCI, which would be a "holistic" (and a far better) measure of border security.
Time passed, with no BCI. "Nearly three years later, the department has not produced this measure, so at this hearing, we will be asking for a status of the BCI, what measures it will take into account and when it might be ready," subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Candice Miller, a Republican, said before Wednesday's testimony. Getting BCI up and running is particularly important now, Miller added, because comprehensive immigration reform cannot happen without a reliable way to assess border security.
So imagine everyone's surprise when Mark Borkowski, a top Homeland Security technology official, told Miller that not only was BCI not ready, but that it won't measure border security and was never meant to.
"I don't believe that we intend, at least at this point, that the BCI would be a tool for the measurement that you're suggesting," Borkowski told Miller. "The BCI is part of a set of information that advises us on where we are and, most importantly, what the trends are ... It is not our intent, at least not immediately, that it would be the measure you are talking about."
Miller appeared stunned and practically begged Borkowski, along with two other Homeland Security officials who were testifying, to tell her what she wanted to hear. "I'm just trying to let this all digest," she said. "We're sort of sitting here, as a Congress ... At what point will you be able to give us something?"
She never got an answer.
Even Democrats who oppose tying immigration reform to border security realized they were being played. "I would say to the department, you've got to get in the game," said a frustrated-sounding Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. "At some point, we're going to have to have DHS work with us more concretely about the confidence of the security of the border."
Rep. Ron Barber, the Democrat who replaced Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, noted, "The Border Patrol rolled out last May a new strategy that didn't have goals, didn't have metrics, didn't have a process for evaluation. That's not really a plan, is it?"
Miller, the chairwoman, reminded the officials that the Department of Homeland Security could end up being the "stumbling block" to immigration reform. But the hearing ended with no hint that any answers might come soon.
A related issue: As reform supporters often point out, a large number of illegal immigrants -- more than 40 percent -- did not cross the border illegally. Rather, they came legally, with a visa, and then never left. Members of the Senate "Gang of Eight" are promising tough new measures to deal with so-called visa overstays.
But like the case of border security, Congress has passed law after law, going back to 1996, requiring the executive branch to crack down on overstays. The promised enforcement has never happened.
Among the measures: The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996; the Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act of 2000; the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001; the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002; and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. All directed the executive branch to stop visa overstays, but the problem remains.
A look at the recent House hearing, as well as at the long-standing overstay problem, highlights a major obstacle to comprehensive immigration reform. The executive branch has the authority to enforce border and visa security. But these days, it appears the executive branch, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, doesn't want to do the job.
Why would passing a new comprehensive immigration reform measure change that?
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03/19/13 Don't blame campaign aides for GOP's woes
03/12/13 Obama resists simple fixes for sequestration cuts
03/05/13 Obama vowed to break GOP fever --- but have they broken his?
02/26/13 Budget hawks question doomsday scenarios
02/12/13 Legalization-first could scuttle immigration plan
02/05/13 GOP aims to ease bloodshed in 2016 primary debates
01/29/13 In some GOP circles, reform is already underway
01/22/13 Once a critic of deficits, Obama now goes for broke
01/15/13 Yes, defense spending should be cut --- in the right way
01/08/13 Republicans bet on stronger hand in spending fight
01/03/13 For Obama, the economy never comes first
12/26/12 Anxiety rises as Americans face start of ObamaCare
12/18/12 Get ready for the costs and chaos of Obamacare
12/11/12 Obama ups bid as GOP looks for way out of crisis
12/04/12 Will Republicans support yet another Bush for president?
11/28/12 Hispanics favor Dems, but didn't decide election
11/20/12 Governors take power as balance shifts inside GOP
11/13/12 In 2016, GOP needs candidate voters believe in
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10/30/12 Romney, not Obama, shows concern for nation's poor
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10/03/12 Obama's problems multiply as GOP frets over Romney
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08/07/12 Heeding critics, Romney finally sharpens pitch for long run
07/31/12 Under second Obama term, a more dependent nation?
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07/03/12 Roberts' dodge at heart of ObamaCare decision
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06/19/12 Obama suffers amnesia about first year as president
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05/30/12 Obama, Rubio birthers should read the law
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05/15/12 In new biography, Obama asks: Am I an American?
05/08/12 With serious talks, Gingrich elevated GOP race
05/01/12 Romney braces for 'vast left-wing conspiracy'
04/24/12 Obama faces defeat on pipeline as Dems defect
04/17/12 Time for a cease-fire in phony 'war on women'?
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03/06/12 In politics fight, Breitbart knew culture is key
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03/21/11 Union equates lavish benefits to black civil rights
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01/17/11 GOP gears up again to strip NPR of federal funds
01/10/11 To House GOP, illegal immigration is a jobs issue
01/03/11 Obamacare mess is legacy of Dems' moment of power
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12/20/10 Dems are earmark junkies but GOP goes straight
12/13/10 Needed: A more presidential Palin
12/06/10 With Dems in a funk, Obama charts a new course
11/29/10 Obama's poll numbers point to his defeat in 2012
11/22/10 Holder ignored risks of civilian terror trials
11/16/10 Dems love facts and science --- except when they don't
11/08/10 Obama, new GOP lawmakers are on collision course
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10/19/10 Profligate Congress should read its own bills
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10/11/10 Trash-talking Democrat faces defeat in Florida
10/05/10 A GOP unknown in striking distance of Barney Frank
09/28/10 Administration inflates green-jobs numbers
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09/14/10 GOP Insiders Wary of Landslide Predictions
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08/09/10 Obama's zealous civil rights enforcer gets busy
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05/03/10 How Obama could lose Arizona immigration battle
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04/05/10 Obamacare was mainly aimed at redistributing wealth
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03/16/10 Marco Rubio and the Republicans who love him
03/15/10 GOP hopes town halls take health care off table
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03/01/10 Why Obama defies the public on health care
02/22/10 South Carolina mulls 2012: Romney? Palin? Huck?
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12/22/09 Why Dems push health care, even if it kills them
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11/16/09 Dems' slick fix: $210 billion of fiscal restraint
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11/02/09 At key moment, Obama leaves health post unfilled
10/26/09 Fierce urgency' for jobs, not health care
10/12/09 Facts hurt Jennings in youth sex controversy
10/05/09 Amid terror threat, Dems chip away at Patriot Act
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09/21/09 Under fire, Democrats abandon ACORN in drove
09/14/09 Dems stifle Republican health care plans
09/08/09 For Dems, a serious Charlie Rangel problem
09/07/09 Obama's speech: Wrong setting for a sales job
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08/24/09 Why Dems may jam through health care plan
08/17/09 GOP thinks the unthinkable: Victory in 2010
08/10/09 The empty words of a journalist turned flack
08/03/09 Probe finds new clues in AmeriCorps IG scandal
07/27/09 Obamacare haunted by unkept promises of stimulus
07/20/09 Why the GOP failed the Sotomayor test
07/13/09 What the GOPers will ask Sotomayor
06/29/09 Serious questions remain for Mark Sanford
06/22/09 How GOPers can crack the AmeriCorps scandal
06/16/09 Worried about Sotomayor? Consider Andre Davis
06/08/09 Can Mitch Daniels save the GOP?
06/01/09 When the Dems derailed a Latino nominee
05/26/09 Why the GOP will defeat Obama on healthcare
05/19/09 Rosy report can't hide stimulus problems
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05/05/09 Sen. Specter, meet your new friends
04/27/09 Ted Olson: ‘Torture' probes will never end
04/20/09 Who's Laughing at the Axis of Evil today?
04/14/09 Congress needs Google to track stimulus money
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03/30/09 On Spending and the Deficit, McCain Was Right
03/24/09 It's Obama's crisis now
03/17/09: Geithner-Obama economics: A joke that's not funny
© 2009, NEA
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
David Ray Skinner
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