“The Senate-passed immigration bill (See S 744.pdf) blindly throws more than $46 billion in resources at the border, and contains absolutely no mechanism to ensure that these resources will be effective or properly implemented,” Cornyn testified before a House Homeland Security subcommittee Tuesday. “No accountability, no guaranteed results – just more hollow promises from Washington.”
Referring to a provision in the Senate bill that would add 18,000 new Border Patrol agents at a cost of roughly $40 billion, Cornyn said in his written remarks that “without a coherent strategy or metrics to ensure results, adding this many new Border Patrol agents could go down as one of the most massive wastes of funds in the history of the federal government.”
“But S.744 unfortunately does not stop there,” Cornyn said, pointing out that if passed, the Senate bill would also “require DHS to blindly purchase billions of dollars of specific equipment” while providing no statutory mechanism directing its implementation.
In contrast, Cornyn praised the House’s Border Security Results Act of 2013 (H.R. 1417), which he said would, “for the first time ever, deploy a set of statistically validated and independently verified border security metrics” to allow Congress to objectively measure progress in securing the borders and reducing illegal immigration.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D – Calif.) agreed with Cornyn’s assessment, likening the Senate bill to “fixing the brakes on a car without fixing the engine.”
“Simply fixing one aspect of our immigration [problem, namely the 11 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S.] ensures that we will fall short of making our country stronger economically and safer from external threats… our task should be to fix the whole immigration system, not merely one or two parts,” said Bercerra, whose Southern California district is situated less than 125 miles from the border with Mexico,
He lauded the Senate’s efforts to find a “bipartisan solution” on immigration reform, and said that he was “pleased” with the common ground already achieved on worker visas and creating a pathway to citizenship. “However,” said Bercerra, “the border security provisions were a tone-deaf response to the realities of our current state of border security and evidence that ‘more’ is not a substitute for ‘better.’”
Not only witnesses harped about what they viewed as misguided border security provisions in the Senate bill. In her opening statement, Rep. Candice Miller (R – Mich.), chairman of the Committee of Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, also harshly criticized the Senate bill.
“Doubling the Border Patrol and tearing down hundreds of miles of fence just to rebuild it appears tough until you look deeper and ask the tough questions: Did the Chief of the Border Patrol say that’s what they needed to get the job done, or did Senators come up with those nice round numbers to get additional votes?” she pointedly asked.
“Spending billions of dollars on border security without a way to assess progress is really what we have done... for the last 20 years without truly understanding how effective the additional resources have been or measuring them… It’s a Washington solution and that will not deliver results.”