NumbersUSA cannot support HR 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act, in its current form. While Chairman McCaul made some improvements in this bill over last Congress', NumbersUSA does not believe that HR 399, as it came out of the Homeland Security Committee last week, will actually secure our borders.
Among the major shortcomings of the bill are the following:
1) The majority of the deadlines in the bill, and certainly the majority of those carrying any sort of penalty for noncompliance, fall outside the term of the current administration. The Obama Administration is thus largely free to continue systematically dismantling our border security and enforcement system. Even worse, the next administration will face penalties early in its first term (two years from enactment) for failing to meet deadlines, even though the current administration is actually to blame.
At a minimum, deadlines need to be set so that the current administration has an incentive to comply.
2) Seven years is far too long for our nation to wait for a biometric exit system that was first enacted in 1996. Moreover, since the deadlines for implementation, with the exception of a small pilot program, fall outside this administration's term, President Obama has no incentive whatsoever to even begin rolling out the system before he leaves office.
At a minimum, the biometric exit system should be required at ALL airports, seaports and pedestrian crossings within two years, with a one year deadline for an exit system at 15 airports, 15 seaports, and 15 pedestrian crossings. An additional two to three years should be sufficient for the vehicular exit system.
3) Despite the talking points put out by the Homeland Security Committee, HR 399 does NOT satisfy the requirements of the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The Secure Fence Act required 700 miles of double-layered, reinforced fencing. Existing miles of vehicle barriers and single-layered fencing do not satisfy this requirement, and should not be counted as part of the mandated 700 miles. It is only by counting this less effective fencing that HR 399 can pretend to meet the requirements of the Secure Fence Act by adding only 48 miles of new double-layered fencing.
At a minimum, the bill should require the construction of the full 700 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing Congress mandated in 2006.
4) The border simply cannot be secured as long as Border Patrol agents are forced to release the illegal aliens they apprehend, instead of rapidly removing them from the United States. Catch-and-release policies must end. Similarly, President Obama's unconstitutional amnesties must be stopped.
We urge House Republicans to insist on a robust amendment process to address these and other shortcomings of HR 399. Americans have been waiting since 1986 for a secure border and serious enforcement of our immigration laws. Congress must take the time to get this right because we cannot afford to wait another 30 years.
Updated: Mon, Feb 9th 2015 @ 9:50am EST