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.
UNDERMINE #1: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM TO TRACK VISA-OVERSTAYERS
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.
UNDERMINE #2: FENCING ON THE MEXICAN BORDER
No Trump immigration promise has gotten more attention than his calls for a wall or fencing along the Mexican-U.S. border. The “McCaul bill” would not only fail to expand what the law already requires, but it would reduce the requirement.
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).
UNDERMINE #3: OPERATIONAL CONTROL OF THE BORDER
Chris wrote that the “McCaul bill” redefined the target of controlling the border:
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 defined the term ‘operational control’ as prevention of ALL unlawful entries into the United States.
The McCaul-Jackson Lee bill redefines the term to achieving a 90% effectiveness rate to be determined by DHS based on its own estimates of those who evade detection and apprehension.
There are a number of independent reports that have found that DHS misses as much as half the unlawful border entries. Is this really an agency that we want determining the effectiveness rate of its own monitoring of the border? Not too mention that allowing 10% of illegal border crossers, which could include drug runners, criminals and terrorists, is considered effective.
TROUBLING SIGNS OF LOYALTY TO GOP LEADERSHIP’S AMNESTY AGENDA
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.
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 sign on to Boehner’s amnesty outline.
McCaul was one of those 19.
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA
From Numbers U.S.A. Original Story