Anti-Amnesty Leaders: New House Border Bill ‘Flawed,’ Could Be Bigger Immigration Package ‘Stalking Horse’

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

A new bill from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, may be nothing more than a stalking horse for a larger immigration package that House Republican leadership seeks, anti-amnesty leaders tell Breitbart News. What’s more, they say, despite all the hype and promises from McCaul and other Republicans on his committee, the bill leaves unaddressed the source of the problem that causes illegal immigration—and they argue it should not be considered some sort of solution.

McCaul introduced his bill, H.R. 399—titled the “Secure Our Borders First Act”—last Friday. The currently 72-page bill is scheduled for a markup on Wednesday, the day after President Obama’s the State of the Union speech. That means few in Congress will be paying attention to the minute details of McCaul’s bill.

To make matters more interesting, when McCaul introduced the bill, he did so with a slickly produced video meant to sell the bill to the public as being tough on the border.

“The southern border of the United States runs almost 2,000 miles long,” McCaul says in the opening of the campaign-ad-like video meant to sell his bill, as videos of border terrain appear. “That is greater than the distance between Chicago and Mexico City. Knowing what and who is coming across our border keeps Americans safe. In the past we’ve seen everything from the running of drugs and human trafficking, to drug cartels and potential terrorists on our southern border. This hurts our economy and places Americans in greater danger.”

The fast-track timing by McCaul on this bill—and the heavy push behind it—also nearly certainly indicates that House GOP leaders approval of it, aides to likely opponents of the bill tell Breitbart News. Republican Study Committee (RSC) members will be pitched on the plan at their Wednesday meeting. The new RSC chairman, Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), has said he doesn’t believe his role is challenging Speaker John Boehner’s authority. He wants to minimize battles with leadership.

In addition, some aides say that the use of the word “first” in the title implies that House GOP leaders are planning a series of immigration bills in the coming months, meaning establishment Republicans plan to drag the internal war in the GOP about immigration into the 2016 presidential process, which will ramp up in the next few months.

“If Republicans back that bill, then the party really doesn’t care anymore about telling the truth and standing up for everyday Americans,” one GOP congressional aide told Breitbart News. “The [McCaul] bill is a joke, and a sad one at that. Just a bunch of gobbly-gook empty promises for members to go home and say they supported something. Ain’t gonna fly for them, though. More ways to get the facts out nowadays. Voters are increasingly on to these sorts of charades designed to fool constituents.”

That aide added that the GOP doesn’t get the moniker the “stupid party” without reason, and if Republicans in the House back this legislation from McCaul they’ll further earn that wisecrack nickname.

“The GOP establishment still thinks they’re smarter than us,” the aide said. “Or else they’re too stupid to know otherwise. The GOP is the ‘stupid party’, after all.”

Another office noted to Breitbart News that talking points pre-rebutting Obama’s Tuesday evening State of the Union circulated to House Republican offices on Monday by the House GOP conference chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) don’t mention Obama’s amnesty at all. Instead, they also include the news that the GOP response to Obama’s speech will for the first time also be available in Spanish in a speech by pro-amnesty Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL). The lengthy email does contain talking points about healthcare, the Keystone XL pipeline and other specific policy matters—as well as general thematic ideas—but there is absolutely no mention of the biggest issue in politics at this time. That’s a stunning omission.

It’s worth noting that McMorris Rodgers’ congressional district is home to the pro-amnesty lobbying and high-tech powerhouse Microsoft, a company whose executives have been almost as intricately involved in pushing for a comprehensive immigration package—whether in one bill or a group of bills—as Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

These details follow a warning from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) this weekend for Americans to watch out for shenanigans from Republican leadership when it comes to immigration in Congress.

“Yep that’s what Jefferson said, The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance,” Gohmert said in an interview that aired from the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention in Myrtle Beach on Breitbart News. “And that means voters have to be vigilant. They have to make sure they are not being fooled by what they’re told is going on. They have to get to the bottom of it. And Breitbart helps us do that by the way.”

Kevin Broughton, a spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, told Breitbart News his organization is digging deep into the bill text before weighing in further. But the group does have some serious concerns with the bill already.

Conservatives are constantly worried about what GOP leadership may be up to on immigration as it’s no secret that Boehner and others want to move an immigration package through Congress. “As we delve into this bill that was dropped on a Friday of a holiday weekend, we have some serious concerns,” Broughton said in an email. “When we complete our analysis and get feedback from the grassroots, the political ruling class will hear from us in a big way, especially if this is a stalking horse for amnesty.”

One GOP congressional aide added, “if the Republican leadership weren’t so moronic, our country would enjoy a prosperous conservative majority.”

Jessica Vaughan, a senior immigration analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies and former State Department official, laid out several of the specific issues she’s found with the legislation in a lengthy email to Breitbart News.

“I hardly know where to start in enumerating all the weaknesses of this bill,” Vaughan said. “First of all, its very concept is flawed. The bill throws an enormous amount of money at the Dept. of Homeland Security and micro-manages the deployment of technology and infrastructure, and sets out detailed metrics that all miss the point of what is driving illegal immigration today.”

Vaughan said that spending money on the border isn’t going to solve the problem. She blames the “border crisis” from this past summer—where tens of thousands of Central American children trekked illegally into America only to be taken in and allowed to stay, on immigration policies implemented by both President Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush. McCaul’s bill, she notes, doesn’t even attempt to tackle that problem:

What we know, especially from our experience over the last year with the border surge, is that the influx of illegal immigration is occurring because illegal aliens know that they will likely succeed in their goal to work here. It’s not that the border is so porous (even though it is in some places) but because immigration laws simply are not enforced, except sometimes against the most egregious criminals. Those who reach the border either get past the Border Patrol, or they are arrested and then allowed (and encouraged) to join family members and demand drawn-out deportation proceedings – and receive a work permit while they wait. Those who overstay know they will not be a target for enforcement and that many employers will hire them without consequence. Illegal aliens who are detected are ignored by ICE, or released to await the same drawn-out proceedings, from which aliens can abscond without consequence. This bill addresses none of these problems. Even worse, it offers fake border security, which is worse than mediocre border security.

Two other House Homeland Security Committee members joined McCaul in the video: Newly elected freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI).

“The biggest problem is we do not have ‘operational control’ of any of our borders, actually,” Miller says in the 3 minute 16 seconds long video posted on the House Homeland Security Committee’s YouTube page.

A bill that Miller introduced last Congress—one that dealt with biometric security measures—was suspected of being another stalking horse meant to ultimately help the Senate’s then-passed “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill through the House of Representatives via a conference committee.

What leadership was trying to do for several months was pass various separate immigration bills through the House, then go to a conference committee, where leaders from both chambers of Congress would confer and hash out the differences between the House bills and the Senate bill. That could have ultimately resulted in a full amnesty bill sneaking through Congress to the president’s desk for his signature.

As the plan became public, and only after several months of anti-amnesty activists protesting, Boehner finally ended the plans for a conference committee with the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill. A hearing that was supposed to happen on Miller’s bill was abruptly, in the middle of the government shutdown over Obamacare funding, canceled and the bill didn’t see any action after that as preparations for the 2014 elections took center stage, according to the Library of Congress’ bill tracking website.

Vaughan notes that one of the phrases, “operational control,” that appears in this new McCaul bill—and one that Miller touted in this high-production-value video—is “pointless” if immigration agents can’t enforce immigration laws, which under the McCaul bill she notes wouldn’t happen:

It aims to establish ‘operational control’ of the border, which means that all illegal entries are prevented. That’s a great concept, and an essential goal. But it is pointless if those who are apprehended are simply released into the country under the moniker of ‘unaccompanied minor’ or ‘asylum applicant’ or ‘in deportation proceedings,’ all of which really mean ‘released,’ often with permission to work. A controlled catch & release policy is still a catch & release policy that burdens American taxpayers, endangers public safety, and encourages more illegal immigration.

Vaughan also points to how the bill calls for only 27 more miles of fencing—hardly even close to the full border, which McCaul noted in his video is nearly two thousand miles long.

“It proposes to build 27 more miles of fencing,” Vaughan said. “That’s just a blip on the line of unsecured southwest border. Hudspeth County, Texas alone has 95 miles of unfenced border. Instead, Congress should force DHS to finish the job mandated in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.”

Vaughan also said that even though the bill doesn’t change the Obama policies of keeping Border Patrol from apprehending and deporting illegal aliens, it has lots of plane and drone flights along the border—which she says is “pointless” because Border Patrol can’t do anything about illegal immigration under this bill. Vaughan concludes:

The bill focuses on observing how many people attempt to enter, not on deterring them, catching them, or returning them. It requires DHS to collect a lot of metrics. This is an acknowledgement that no assessment of the state of border security is complete with only border apprehension statistics. They require the collection of data on ‘gotaways’ and recidivists, which is helpful to a point. But one very important metric is missing – the bill does not require DHS to disclose what happens to those illegal migrants who are caught; are they returned or released?


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