Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Many Washington champions for MORE immigration enforcement are abuzz and aghast at reports indicating that Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is considered to be high on the Trump Team's list to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

NumbersUSA members will recognize McCaul over the last four years as the champion of legislation for LESS immigration enforcement. (NumbersUSA activists flooded Congress with faxes and phone calls objecting to McCaul's legislation which eventually had to be pulled because of the grassroots disapproval.)

No government position is as important as the DHS Secretary in determining whether President-Elect Donald Trump fulfills his immigration enforcement promises to the working women and men of America.

Yet, the Trump Team apparently is seriously considering filling the position with Rep. McCaul who has used his congressional leadership position of chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee the last four years to try to undermine Trump's top proposals on immigration enforcement.

Let's look at some of the ways.


In Trump's landmark August 2016 immigration speech in Phoenix, he promised to "finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system which we need desperately. For years Congress has required biometric entry-exit visa tracking systems, but it has never been completed."

But H.R. 1417 (the "McCaul bill)," introduced in the autumn of 2013, would have gutted the entry-exit law previously passed by Congress. Here is what NumbersUSA's Chris Chmielenski wrote about the bill:

The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government implement a biometric entry/exit system at all ports of entry to better monitor the movement of non-immigrant visitors to and from the United States. In 2004, Congress codified a mandatory biometric entry/exit system in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, and yet, there's still no system in place.

Instead of requiring completion of the entry/exit system, the McCaul-Jackson Lee bill gives DHS an out. The bill requires DHS to develop a plan to implement a biometric system at all ports of entry, unless the Secretary determines that such a system is not feasible. In that case, DHS can develop a plan for an alternative system.

The inability to implement a biometric entry/exit system at all ports of entry is one of DHS's biggest failures. A recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies found that not only would a system be easy to implement, but given current technology, it would be very affordable. Giving DHS the opportunity, though, to develop an alternate system would almost guarantee that a biometric entry/exit system will never exist.

Rep. McCaul sought to weaken the entry-exit goals even more by co-sponsoring another bill (H.R. 3141) which our NumbersUSA Grade Cards describe like this:

(Weakens) interior enforcement by exempting non-pedestrian traffic from the entry-exit system. This would exempt an estimated 25% of all border crossings from the entry-exit system and create a loophole for would-be illegal aliens who would not be subject to the exit system and, thus, could potentially overstay in the U.S.


Chris wrote this about McCaul's H.R. 1417:

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to 'take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States.'

The McCaul-Jackson Lee legislation, however, only requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit "a comprehensive strategy 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.

So, instead of requiring DHS to secure the entire border, now the agency simply has to submit a plan to Congress detailing how it would secure portions of the border. There are requirements in H.R.1417 to implement the Secretary's plan, but should the agency fail to do so, the only consequence is for DHS to submit a report to Congress explaining why it failed (or didn't try).


No Trump immigration promise has gotten more attention than his calls for a wall or fencing along the Mexican-U.S. border.

McCaul's handling of border fencing in H.R. 399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015 exemplifies the way House Republican leaders have responded to the public's clamor for more enforcement. The Republicans in November 2014 had won control of Congress after national campaigning against the Obama Administration's lack of enforcement and promising to do things differently. But the response of House GOP leaders was to offer the latest version of McCaul's border bill that had been exposed as an anti-enforcement bill in the previous Congress.

Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies analyzed the bill as an improvement over the 2013 bill but summarized that "it falls far short of what is needed to slow the flow of illegal immigration and prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals. It proposes to spend $10 billion of taxpayer money without ensuring that a single illegal alien will be sent home."

After all the promises made by Republicans seeking votes in 2014, McCaul's bill offered only 27 miles of double fencing, about which Vaughan stated:

This is certainly welcome but, again, inadequate. To put this into perspective, Hudspeth County, Texas, alone has 95 miles of unfenced border. We don't need to build fencing along the entire border, but 27 more miles (to be built in three separate sectors) is a drop in the bucket compared to the 700 miles that was authorized (but never completed) by the 2006 Secure Fence Act. And, if Congress just reneges on the authorization like it has in the past, and does not appropriate the funds, it may never be built. "


McCaul is on the leadership team of Speaker Paul Ryan who has a career-long record of seeking expansionist immigration.

McCaul was also loyal to the previous Speaker John Boehner on immigration when very few other Republicans were. McCaul's legislation to weaken various immigration enforcement provisions already in place was widely seen by those of us who support stronger enforcement as a fig-leaf to make it look like Republican leadership was doing something to strengthen border enforcement when it was actually doing the opposite. It is telling that the McCaul bill which the GOP leadership touted as enhancing border security was so effective at weakening enforcement that the House pro-amnesty forces included it in the border security part of their amnesty bill.

Before 2013, McCaul had a much better track record of supporting enforcement that would reduce the labor competition from illegal foreign workers. But by 2013, he was tighter with top Republican leaders who have long been far more interested than rank-and-file members in protecting business lobbies' access to illegal foreign workers.

The then-House Speaker John Boehner had bowed to grassroots pressure in 2013 and kept the Senate's Gang of Eight amnesty and legal immigration expansion off the House floor. But in early 2014, he tried to begin a process to build support for another version of amnesty outlined as his "Principles on Immigration Reform." The Principles included a path to citizenship and voting rights for illegal immigrants.

After tremendous NumbersUSA grassroots opposition, that Boehner outline (which was widely considered to have been heavily influenced by Rep. Paul Ryan) was eventually abandoned. Only 19 House Republicans were willing to publicly state their support of Boehner's amnesty outline.

McCaul was one of those 19.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

border control
Interior Enforcement

Updated: Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 10:05am EST

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