Rand Paul: Congress, not Homeland Security, Should Decide Border Issue

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to introduce an amendment to the Senate immigration bill that would give Congress, not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the authority to determine whether the border is actually secure.

One of the biggest concerns of critics of the legislation, and even co-author Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), is that it delegates unprecedented amounts of authority to DHS, currently led by Secretary Janet Napolitano.

A detailed outline of the Paul “Trust But Verify” border security amendment plan obtained by Breitbart News shows that it would ensure “that Congress writes and enforces a border security blueprint rather than asking the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a plan.”

“The American people should not rely on bureaucrats or a Commission to enforce border security,” the outline continues. “The Paul Amendment mandates a vote by Congress every year, for 5 years, on whether or not the border is secure. If the border is not secure, then the processing of undocumented immigrants stops until it is secure.”

Currently, the "Gang of Eight" bill delegates the authority for the drafting of a border security plan, and the determination of whether the border is actually secured, to DHS. If DHS does not achieve a secured border within five years under the current version of the Gang of Eight bill, a “Border Commission” of representatives from the four border state governors’ offices, congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., and the White House will convene to determine whether the border is secure and, if not, to come up with a plan on how to do it. 

If that Commission does not produce a plan within six months, the authority for border security reverts straight back to DHS. Since Democrats are guaranteed at least a few slots on the Commission, they could potentially filibuster it for six months so the border would never be secured. Meanwhile, illegal immigrants would, under that plan, be well on their way to their path to citizenship without a secured border.

Paul’s amendment would change that. It would require annual votes by both the House and the Senate to determine whether the border is secure, thereby taking the authority out of DHS’s and Napolitano’s hands.

Paul’s amendment includes triggers by which Congress would determine whether the border is secure.

Those triggers include:

  • Requiring a double-layered fence be completed in five years and that every year sufficient progress is made to complete that promise, with specific miles-per-year requirements;
  • Completion of an effective exit and entry program at all points of entry that tracks visa holders;
  • Progress on reaching the goal of 95% effective capture of illegal entrants; 
  • 100% incarceration until trial for newly-captured illegal entrants and overstays; and
  • Reduction of new undocumented immigrant numbers to a negligible level as measured by the U.S. Census and the Department of Homeland Security.

Paul’s amendment would also require DHS to “produce an annual report on border security and progress toward completion of the double layered fence, as well as verifiable metrics.” Such a report, the Paul plan outline says, “will trigger the annual Congressional vote.” That report will also be reviewed by DHS’s Office of the Inspector General to ensure accountability and accuracy

The Paul plan would only grant 2 million Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status applications per year when both chambers of Congress vote that the border is secure. If there is not a joint resolution agreeing the border is secure, no RPI applications will be granted that year. That means the Paul amendment requires real border security before any legalization at all for illegal immigrants.

Paul’s amendment also aims to ensure that the bill would not be used to violate Americans’ privacy. According to the outline Breitbart News obtained, it “expressly prohibits this Act from authorizing, directly or indirectly, the issuance, use, or establishment of a national identification card or system for U.S. citizens and removes the ‘Photo Tool’ facial database from the underlying bill.”

The amendment also would increase security with regard to student and other visa programs. “A Student Visa National Security Registration system is created to add increased security screening of students coming from countries known to be incubators of extremism and exporters of international terrorism,” the outline says, adding that the Paul amendment would have “enhanced checks of status, location, and activities of students here on visas” and “enhanced screening of individuals petitioning for asylum and refugee status.” 

The outline notes the Paul amendment would also allow immigration judges “to issue enforceable deportation orders, to correct the current problem that Immigration Judge deportation orders are seldom implemented.”


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