House Speaker John Boehner’s Border Crisis Working Group released Wednesday its recommendations on what should be done on the border crisis. The group, which is chaired by Rep. Kay Granger, R-Tex., announced 12 policy ideas for how to solve the influx of unaccompanied alien children on the border. Some of their ideas are good, some are bad, and some important policies are missing entirely.
The Missing Ideas:
Strikingly, the report doesn’t even mention the way immigration law is being enforced. President Obama’s anti-enforcement policies such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) encourage illegal immigration and undermine the rule of law. Without addressing the magnet of amnesty and de-facto amnesty through the non-enforcement of immigration laws, even the best border security improvements will be ineffective.
The Bad Ideas:
- “Require a DHS [Department of Homeland Security] strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.”
- “Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.”
These policies seem to be drawn from past, similar bills such as H.R. 1417 that call for various strategies, plans, metrics, and reports from DHS. While such proposals correctly don’t throw money at the problem, the strategies, plans, and metrics end up being empty words on paper if not properly administered and financed. As Heritage research pointed out, “even where metrics can be reliably established today, they may be meaningless tomorrow. The same is true regarding any attempt to certify that the border is secure.”
Importantly, such language is similar to the S. 744, the Senate’s flawed immigration bill, and could be a vehicle for going to a conference committee, where harmful policies and compromises are the likely outcome.
- …“the ultimate goal of processing family units [in] 5-7 days.”
While this is a great goal, it is unclear how this would be actualized. Enforcement policies must change, and not just the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act to meet this goal. Given the way President Obama enforces current law, a mere goal or suggestion by Congress to rapidly process and remove individuals will do little.
The Good Ideas:
- “Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission. “
If used correctly, this is a good temporary step, but Congress should understand that the National Guard is not a cost-effective solution in the long run.
- “Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.”
This is a a welcome change: Border Patrol agents should be allowed to patrol the entire border. Restrictions because of bureaucratic turf wars or environmental reasons are not justified and should be done away with.
- “Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 [TVPRA] so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans for the purpose of removals.”
TVPRA should be reformed to make it clear that DHS can return these children to their home countries in a safe and judicious, but expedited, manner.
- “Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border”… “require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody.”
After families or children are release from custody, many abscond. Indeed as many as 46 percent of unaccompanied minors do not show up to their court date. Ending this “catch and release” will ensure that more unlawful immigrants are removed from the U.S.