In the latest round of legislative sparring, House Democrats introduced a new comprehensive immigration reform bill during the first few days of October and it is already under fire. Fierce Homeland Security reported that while this bill is similar to the immigration legislation that the Senate passed this June, it does remove one substantial piece of the total package – the Senate bill's Hoeven-Corker 'border surge' amendment.
The House bill (H.R. 15) called for the creation of 20,000 border agent jobs to cover the southwestern border of the U.S. According to the news source, instead of this, the new piece of legislation includes a bill from Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) that would require the Homeland Security Department to create a metric system to measure border security that must be independently assessed.
"We're not introducing the perfect bill," said Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), the bill's sponsor, at a press conference Oct. 2, according to the news source. "We're introducing a comprehensive reform bill that provides that space for compromise."
The Hoeven-Corker 'border surge' amendment called for the use of $38 billion to deploy and train an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents. The news source reported that among the provisions for the bill, partial funding would come from the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund, which is financed using immigration and border crossing fees and fines.
"We could have, as several of my colleagues have said, put on a bill that would have gotten 200 Democrats on it. But what we chose to do was show that we want to get this done now," Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told the news source.
The latest immigration reform bill claims to hold the line on budget without negatively impacting national security. However, in the face of such an extensive job as border security, cutting additional funding for agents may not be the right call if operational control of the Border is the goal. While few would argue against a more effective use of our current Border Patrol assets, a piecemeal approach to immigration reform leaves potential holes in national security by setting goals without allocating the necessary funding to achieve them.
Immigration reform, the Federal budget and border security are issues that need to be carefully balanced. Everyone agrees that the current immigration system needs an overhaul but it cannot be achieved without gaining measurable control over our borders. Partisan politics are increasingly becoming an impediment to rational solutions. What is needed is a bi-partisan approach that is fair, realistic and manageable.
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