Borderline Confusion – Secure, or Not Secure?

DHS Secretary Janet NapolitanoJim Gilchrist, MMP Exclusive – While President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress continue to press for a citizenship path for more than 11 million illegal immigrants, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano went on a whirlwind tour of our southern border to assess security.

Triumphantly arriving in San Diego this week, Napolitano announced that the border is indeed secure. No reason now for Republicans to object to anything Democrats may want to put into an immigration reform package. After all, they just wanted assurances that another 11 million people will not be able to scramble across the border for jobs and eventual citizenship.

In the Secretary’s glowing assessment of border security, she neglected to mention a few things.

By its own count, the Border Patrol says apprehensions rose 9% in 2012. And while illegal immigration has reportedly slowed due to a sputtering U.S. economy, the Border Patrol typically apprehends only 60% of those crossing into America illegally, leaving about 40% to enter the country undetected.

When challenged, Napolitano declined to play the “numbers game” with reporters, preferring to go by anecdotal evidence suggesting that tightened border security is working.

This puts Napolitano at odds with a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which recommended that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol “develop milestones and time frames for developing border security goals and measures to assess progress made and resource needs.” Without these measures, the GAO said, there is really no way to determine if the border is secure.

DHS’s inability to provide a way to measure border security effectiveness remains a bone of contention among many members of Congress. They are unwilling to go along with President Obama’s immigration reform proposals until border security effectiveness can be established.

Immigration activists are under no illusion about this issue, which is why they want President Obama to reject congressional proposals that would delay a path to citizenship by making it contingent on stepped-up border security.

The lengths the Obama administration is willing to go to portray border security as tight, demonstrates insincerity in future border enforcement efforts, especially since it dispatched Napolitano to the border knowing of the GAO’s findings, which were issued in December after DHS had reviewed and commented on them.

Under the bipartisan Senate framework, Napolitano could have final say over whether the border is secure enough to put illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship. If this week’s pronouncement is any indication, she has already made that determination.