Saturday, July 27, 2013 | 2 a.m.
This editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times
It isn’t often that the House gets it right on immigration reform, at least not in recent years. Yet, it has done so with the Border Security Results Act of 2013, a sensible piece of legislation that has miraculously emerged from the Committee on Homeland Security and that strikes a fair balance between enforcement and fiscal responsibility.
Unlike the Senate’s approach, which throws $46 billion at the U.S.-Mexican border without any real strategy behind it, the House bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide a status report on illegal crossings and develop a strategy to thwart the vast majority of unauthorized entries.
The House and Senate bills share some of the same goals, including calling for a dramatic increase in surveillance of the border and ensuring that 90 percent of those attempting to cross illegally are either turned back or arrested. But the House bill would require far more analysis before spending billions for more boots on the ground and additional technology.
For example, the House bill calls on Homeland Security, as part of its status report, to identify high-traffic areas within three months of the bill becoming law. The department would have another 30 days to create metrics to measure the state of border security. Within nine months of the bill’s approval, the department would have to have a border security strategy up and running. Only after those benchmarks were met would Congress provide additional funding for expanding the strategy across the entire border.
The bill also demands far more accountability from the department, including progress reports to Congress and Government Accountability Office oversight. Unlike the Senate bill, it does not tie the promise of a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who are illegally in the U.S. to border security, which is outside their control.
Much of the credit for the bill belongs to Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the committee, and Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., the vice chairwoman, both of whom worked across the aisle and consulted with academics and experts rather than give in to the arbitrary demands of some GOP House members who feel that nothing short of a U.S. version of the Great Wall of China will guarantee border security.
On Tuesday, the committee is scheduled to hold hearings to compare the House and Senate approaches to border security. We hope that McCaul and Miller continue to prove that some House Republicans are still capable of having a sane and credible discussion on immigration reform.