POLITICS

House chairman vows to force Obama administration to measure border security

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York

After a House border security subcommittee hearing turned into a fiasco Wednesday, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security says he will introduce legislation to “finally compel” the Obama administration to evaluate border security.

The problem broke into the open on Wednesday, when Republican Rep. Candice Miller, chairman of the border security subcommittee, asked Department of Homeland Security officials when they would produce their long-awaited method to measure border security, known as the Border Condition Index, or BCI.  Lawmakers in both parties are anxiously waiting for BCI because comprehensive immigration reform proposals depend on the verification of border security before offering a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants in the United States illegally.  But when Miller and others asked DHS officials, the officials not only said that BCI is not ready but that it also would not measure border security, and was never intended to do that job.

Committee members from both parties were stunned.  So now, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, is vowing to force DHS measure border security. “Without measures to determine whether progress is being made in securing our borders, we have no idea whether strategies are working, resources are delivering or safety is improving,” McCaul said in a statement.  “The Border Condition Index is just the latest in a series of failed attempts at delivering metrics that accurately assess the permeability of our borders. It is past time for the Department of Homeland Security to create these measures, and in the coming weeks I will be introducing legislation that finally compels them to produce a National Strategy for border security that includes useable metrics, so that we can finally fill the gaps resulting from the Administration’s current ad hoc border policy.”

McCaul and his GOP allies face an uphill battle.  The New York Times reports that, “Obama administration officials said on Thursday that they had resisted producing a single measure to assess the border because the president did not want any hurdles placed on the pathway to eventual citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.”  If that is the case, the president himself appears determined to resist any effort to measure border security, and Republicans will have a real fight on their hands trying to force him to change.

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