By U.S. REP. ROGER WILLIAMS
Few issues are more important that securing our border. Texas accounts for about half of the U.S. border with Mexico, so it’s not surprising that the Census Bureau found that Texas is home to 15 percent of all illegal immigrants in the United States. In fact, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that illegal immigrants accounted for 6.7 percent of Texas’ population and 9 percent of its labor force in 2010.
This is why any solution to our immigration challenge must begin with border security. The effects of our nation’s broken immigration system can be felt most profoundly in border states, where the states’ resources – like education, health care and entitlement programs – are burdened far more than those of the federal government because of an influx of individuals who illegally cross the border.
A 2010 report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found that only 44 percent of the Southern border was under “operational control” of the Border Patrol. Further, the report revealed that only 6.5 percent of the border is under “full control.” This is completely unacceptable and should have been a major red flag for the President. Instead, the president traded out that system for one without any clear capability of measuring border security.
To put it simply: The president chose to go from a system that revealed how broken and porous our borders are to a system that has no way of collecting or analyzing that data. The GAO’s 2012 Border Patrol Strategy report stated that the system we now use “limits oversight and accountability and has reduced information provided to Congress.” This is outrageous and poses a serious threat to our national security.
Earlier this year, a group of Senators instrumental to the Senate’s recent immigration bill toured the Arizona border with the Customs and Border officials. In an ironic twist of fate, they witnessed a young woman climbing the border fence separating Mexico from the U.S. One would assume that this event would spur lawmakers to act, yet the Senate’s proposal last month places border security far down on its list of priorities. This is one of the many reasons I do not support the Senate’s flawed plan.