House Immigration Bill Falls Far Short [Updated]

Tomorrow the House Homeland Security Committee will take up H.R.399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, which I take it has the support of House GOP leadership. Sadly, the bill will do little to solve our illegal immigration crisis. The Center for Immigration Studies points out some of the bill’s many defects. Here are a few of the highlights:

* The bill mandates just 27 miles of fencing, which may or may not ever be funded. If you think a fence is important, this is a risibly small effort.

* The act dictates more manpower, drones, etc. with a view toward apprehending more illegals. The problem is that the bill includes no requirements as to what will be done with the illegals when they are apprehended.

* The bill says that apprehended illegals must face “consequences,” but no such consequences are specified. Currently, the Obama administration puts apprehended illegals into “proceedings,” which virtually all of them ignore. That practice apparently will continue.

CIS quotes several retired border agents and officials who have read the bill. Here is one:

Wrote Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, in a press release yesterday: “As long as Sanctuary cities, welfare, education, and jobs and principally lack of enforcement and enabling by the federal government, are made available to the undocumented alien, we will not be able to secure the physical border.”

I think that is correct. CIS concludes:

And consider the title: “Secure Our Border First”. First, before what? Before we abandon our half-hearted attempt to block the president’s executive actions? Before we tackle interior enforcement needs? Or before we move on to the amnesty and expansion of guest worker programs that appears to be the real priority for top congressional Republican leaders?

Immigration is a winning issue for Republicans, but only if they do what the voters want: stop illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration. So far, there is no convincing sign that this is what Republican Congressional leaders have in mind. This graphic illustrates the results of a recent Kellyanne Conway poll. Click to enlarge:

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Immigration is the issue on which our political class is most out of touch.

UPDATE: Senator Jeff Sessions released a statement on the House bill that includes the following:

The Chairman McCaul proposal does not include the following reforms needed to achieve a sound immigration system: it does not end catch-and-release; it does not require mandatory detention and return; it does not include worksite enforcement; it does not close dangerous asylum and national security loopholes; it does not cut-off access to federal welfare; and it does not require completion of the border fence. Surprisingly, it delays and weakens the longstanding unfulfilled statutory requirement for a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.

If Congress learned anything from last year’s ongoing border disaster, it should be that border security cannot be achieved unless immigration agents are permitted to do their jobs and our laws are actually being enforced. A nation cannot control its borders if being caught violating those borders does not result in one’s swift return home.

As it stands now, Congress provides billions of dollars every year to the Department of Homeland Security for border security and immigration enforcement and yet DHS uses those resources to flout the laws Congress has passed, rather than to enforce them. Without ending catch-and-release, any additional funds for DHS will simply be used to facilitate the transfer of more illegal immigrants into U.S communities. Border security must be approached differently in a time when we have a President who makes up his own laws, and where illegal immigrants actually hope they will be apprehended so they can be released into an American city or town. We live in a new reality.

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