Despite a torrent of deceptive push polls showing that Americans are agog over amnesty, politicians in both parties understand Americans are overwhelmingly against their amnesty agenda.
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After all, 67% of blue state voters in Oregon rejected an effort to grant drivers licenses to illegal aliens, even though proponents of the ballot measure outspent opponents by 10-1. Accordingly, all of their amnesty bills will be couched in faux border security parlance, much like they did with the Gang of 8 bill in 2013.
The latest Trojan Horse for amnesty is the “McCaul border bill,” which is authored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and pushed emphatically by GOP leadership. They even put out a slick 3-minute documentary style video to promote it.
Before delving into the details of the bill (H.R. 399), it’s important to ponder the following questions: why would Republicans introduce new border security bench marks and expect the president to implement them at a time when he has nullified our current laws? Why not focus exclusively on cutting off funding for agencies until he agrees to implement the laws on the books, as House conservatives pushed for last week?
The answer is as simple as it is insidious.
For the past two years, GOP leaders have carefully limited their criticism of the Gang of 8 amnesty bill to the “comprehensive” nature of the bill. They incessantly speak of a “step-by-step” approach. Why? They merely plan to implement the broad goals of the bill – phony, notional, and unverifiable border security measures years down the road, massive expansion of record high legal immigration, and immediate amnesty for illegals – through a “piecemeal” approach instead of in one bill. Their displeasure is nothing more than theatre to create confusion and prey on the naivety of the public in order to pass amnesty.
Enter the McCaul border bill, and their plan becomes even clearer.
The McCaul border bill is ostensibly a cut and paste version of the border security portions of the Gang of 8 amnesty bill, with a few more mandates and a 5-7 year window of implementation instead of 10 years. After much criticism last year of McCaul’s first attempt to garner support for this bill, they tightened up some of the language to ensure that, for the most part, it doesn’t weaken current law. But the fundamental flaw of the Gang of 8 bill still applies, given that leadership plans to couple this with other immigration bills while Obama is still in office.
In terms of the specifics of the bill, here are the fundamental flaws:
- The “Submit a Plan” Plan: The bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit “a comprehensive operational plan” for gaining and maintaining situational awareness and operational control of high traffic areas within 2 years, and “operational control along the southwest border” within 5 years. This is simply unverifiable hocus pocus that has been ridiculed and ignored for decades. It’s certainly no stronger than the 2006 Secure Fence Act and 2004 Terrorism Prevention Act, which mandated construction of 700 miles of fencing and a visa exit-entry system respectively, sans a convoluted sequence of events and bureaucratic input.
- The Unelected Commission: The Gang of 8 bill would have created a highly controversial border commission, appointing officials instead of elected members of Congress. This bill also outsources congressional authority to a border commission, appointed in part by the president, to determine whether the border is secured. Keep in mind: Democrats already believe the border is more secure than ever.
- The Timeline: Although this bill does tighten up the trigger for implementation after the submission of a plan and shortens the deadline relative to the Gang of 8 bill, by the time the bureaucratic maze of reports and assessments are done, Obama will be out the door. They will definitely submit a plan if that is the price they have to pay for amnesty. So what happens if they fail to implement a plan? Instead of simply eliminating base salaries for political appointees if they fail to implement and construct the said enforcement measures while Obama is still president, this bill merely blocks bonuses and travel on official government aircraft for those officials. Oh, and the traveling penalty can be waived if the Secretary of Homeland Security has national security concerns. Also, the metric for beginning implementation is ambiguous; the only clear deadline is 18 months to construct fencing and 2 years to achieve operational control over high traffic areas. By that point, Obama will likely be out of office and would have no problem passing on the penalties to the next administration.
- The Fence: The bill lists a litany of technology assets and metrics to secure the border, but what is the point of technology when it is subject to Obama’s “prosecutorial discretion?” Just last week, the DHS Inspector General released a report showing how the administration misused the funding and assets for drone technology and did not deploy them in all of the areas they were supposed to patrol. Only the actual construction of the entire double-layered pedestrian fence would ensure that border security is not manipulated. While the bill does call for some fencing, it actually weakens laws that are currently ignored. In 2006, Congress passed a bill requiring the construction of a 700-mile double-layered fence. As of June 2013, only 36.3 of the 700 miles of double-layered fencing were constructed, as required by the 2006 Secure Fence Act. This bill only requires the construction of 27 additional miles of the effective double-layered fence.
This might have been a solid bill 20 years ago – without the wealth of history to draw upon which has shown us how waivers, discretion, stonewalling, and downright malfeasance has precluded the actual implementation of border security. But as all of us have learned since 1986, this is not a legislative problem, it is an executive problem; and in the case of Obama – it’s a constitutional crisis. Until Congress uses the power of the purse, must-pass bills, and the confirmation process of political appointees to leverage against Obama’s disregard for our laws, it is worthless to pass more border bills echoing current law or previous laws that have been ignored.
So what should Republicans do?
If they decide to pass this deeply flawed bill, the least they can do is promise no discussion of any amnesty bill for another 5-7 years – the period through which we will determine whether the border and visa systems are secured and operational.
Other than holding Obama accountable for violating current law, Republicans should address weaknesses and loopholes in current law, such as repealing the Visa Waiver Program, and closing the loopholes for refugee, asylum, and parole, as is done in the Aderholt bill.
Aside from that, Republicans should focus on loopholes in national security, interior enforcement, and access to welfare benefits/tax credits to illegals. Any bill addressing metrics for the border itself and apprehensions is useless because control over our border and sovereignty is not a statutory problem; it’s an abuse of power problem.
It’s understandable for McCaul to seek some relevance in this debate as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. But none of the laws within his jurisdiction need to be fixed; they need to be enforced. The aforementioned ideas addressing statutory loopholes would be dealt with in the Judiciary Committee.
This bill would be satisfactory – no runs, no hits, no errors – if it was not being used as a Trojan Horse for amnesty. But if they plan to pass an accompanying amnesty, which by all indications seems to be the plan, this bill is woefully inadequate and would result in more ‘amnesty now, promises of enforcement later.’ Also, the entire structure and focus of the bill – vague bench marks and broad goal posts on the already ambiguous goal of border security – is written in a way that will allow the Senate to easily water it down.