Repub­li­can law­maker rips new bor­der in­dex

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JERRY SEPER

The chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on May 5 called a new plan by the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity to de­velop a “bor­der se­cu­rity in­dex” to mea­sure en­force­ment progress along the South­west bor­der “noth­ing short of in­flated facts and fig­ures to give them an ex­cuse to say the bor­der is se­cure.”

Rep. La­mar Smith, Texas Repub­li­can, said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had “cooked the books” on bor­der se­cu­rity for the past two years and he didn’t ex­pect the re­sults of the pro­posed new in­dex to be any dif­fer­ent.

“No mat­ter what kind of in­dex the ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­duces, they can­not change the facts and the truth. The re­al­ity is that there are mas­sive holes in se­cu­rity along the south­ern bor­der and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has ig­nored this grow­ing prob­lem for the past two years,” Mr. Smith said.

On May 5, Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Janet A. Napoli­tano told the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee she has asked U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) of­fi­cials to come up with an­other way to mea­sure what she de­scribed as the true state of se­cu­rity along the bor­der. She said she wants in­for­ma­tion about how many peo­ple have been de­terred from try­ing to cross in the first place, as well as sta­tis­tics that would show the in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent clashes and col­lat­eral dam­age fu­eled by the drug trade.

Miss Napoli­tano said the new yard­stick would bet­ter re­flect the im­prove­ments the ad­min­is­tra­tion says it has made along the bor­der, adding that the agency’s long­time mantra of gain­ing “op­er­a­tional con­trol” of U.S. borders had be­come ob­so­lete. She said the new in­dex would in­clude crime, im­mi­gra­tion and eco­nomic data.

“Op­er­a­tional con­trol — it’s an ar­chaic term,” Miss Napoli­tano told the com­mit­tee.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, the com­mit­tee’s rank­ing Repub­li­can, Su­san M. Collins of Maine, noted that some 300 bod­ies had been dis­cov­ered in mass graves just 90 miles from Brownsville, Texas, and last month FBI Di­rec­tor Robert S. Mueller III re­ported that drug car­tels con­sti­tuted a threat “to the se­cu­rity of the en­tire coun­try.”

“This back­drop ex­plains why many were per­plexed to hear Sec­re­tary Napoli­tano state in late March that se­cu­rity on the south­ern U.S. bor­der is ‘bet­ter now than it ever has been’ and that vi­o­lence from neigh­bor­ing Mex­ico has not edged north,” she said.

With the Gov­ern­ment Accountability Of­fice (GAO), Congress’ chief watch­dog, say­ing less than half of the south­ern bor­der is un­der “op­er­a­tional con­trol,” the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been dis­tanc­ing it­self from that mea­sure for more than a year.

“The Gov­ern­ment Accountability Of­fice and Bor­der Pa­trol agents on the ground know the truth,” said Mr. Smith. “Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent GAO re­port, only 44 per­cent of the south­west bor­der is un­der the ‘op­er­a­tional con­trol’ of the Bor­der Pa­trol. Mex­i­can drug car­tels are out of con­trol and the vi­o­lence threat- ens to spill over into the United States. And each year, mil­lions of il­le­gal im­mi­grants en­ter the U.S.”

In Fe­bru­ary, the GAO said the U.S. had op­er­a­tional con­trol along 873 miles of the 2,000-mile U.S.Mex­ico bor­der. Of those miles, just 15 per­cent were des­ig­nated as “con­trolled,” while the rest were des­ig­nated a slightly lesser cat­e­gory of “man­aged.”


Rep. La­mar Smith, Texas Repub­li­can, ac­cuses the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of hav­ing “cooked the books” for two years re­gard­ing U.S. bor­der se­cu­rity facts.

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