As House Republicans prepare to take a vote on what Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) calls the “strongest border security bill” to ever appear before Congress, a union of Border Patrol agents argue it is not tough enough.
“We believe that overall H.R. 399 will not be effective in helping to secure our borders,” National Border Patrol Council spokesman Shawn Moran said in a statement over the weekend. “This legislation speaks about metrics but frankly does not provide either the strategy or the resources necessary to achieve them.”
The House is slated to vote on the “Secure our Borders First Act” this week and the effort’s leaders have billed it as part of a step-by-step approach to dealing with the nation’s immigration problems.
According to the National Border Patrol Council — which represents more than 16,500 Border Patrol agents and staff — the current trends at the border are not good, with apprehensions and the dangers of cartels and terrorists on the upswing.
“Although there are some positive elements to H.R. 399, we believe in its entirety it will only serve as window dressing and was drafted without any input front line agents who are protecting our border,” Moran said. “We are very interested in working with any member of Congress to create legislation that focuses on a real strategy that keeps our nation and our agents safe.”
The National Border Patrol Council offered three bullet points that it believes the border bill must address for it to be effective:
Increased manpower to deal with the illegal immigration and drug smuggling. The NBPC is advocating for an additional 5,000 agents. HR 399 only duplicates a staffing floor that is already in place through the annual appropriations bill.
Increased training to better prepare agents to react to changing threats on the border. This would include restoring the academy to approximately 20 weeks that most law enforcement agencies have, and not the 54 days used by the Border Patrol.
Increased resources for agents to do the job they are trained to do. This would include better gear, more M-4 rifles in the field, and improved communications equipment.
Last week the union representing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees said it opposed to the legislation, largely for failing to deal with immigration fraud and delaying implementation of a biometric entry-exit system. McCaul responded that the Homeland Security Committee does not have jurisdiction over interior enforcement.
A House GOP aide familiar with the bill defended it, stressing to Breitbart News that the legislation will provide the necessary resources to gain control over the border.
“It provides a sector-by-sector analysis of threats and needs, and attaches to that the resources necessary to gain operational control,” the aide explained in an email. “The bill specifically grants the chief of the Border Patrol the flexibility to relocate technology and resources, including manpower, to the highest traffic areas to immediately confront changing threats. In addition, the bill includes provisions for improved communications for our hard working Border Patrol agents.”