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Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate H.R. 6025, the ``Mandatory Operational Control Reporting and Performance Measures Act of 2012,'' which provides for annual reports to Congress from the Secretary of Homeland Security on the status of operational control of the international land and maritime borders of the United States, as well as, unlawful entries through those borders.

As a Ranking Member of Homeland Security Committee Transportation Subcommittee, I recognize the essential role that the Committee and this Congress play in securing our borders from terrorism, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration. This goal involves the substantial efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as Congressional creation of effective border policy. I recognize that this bill seeks to provide additional information to Congress that will be helpful to that process going forward.

Section 2 of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to ``take all actions the Secretary determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime border of the United States.'' The section defines operational control to mean ``the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.''

As the Representative for the 18th Congressional District in Houston, Texas, border security and integrity are of paramount importance to both me and my constituents. The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of public and private facilities located just a few hours' sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. Its services link Houston with 1,053 ports in 203 countries.

The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne commerce, second in total tonnage, and sixth in the world. It generates about $11 billion annually and provides over 287,000 direct and indirect jobs in Texas. As the port plays such a large role in the US economy it is crucial that we maintain its integrity and security.

H.R. 6025 is designed to gauge the performance of the Department in achieving operational control, so that Congress may provide additional legislation, tools, and resources as necessary.

More specifically, this bill will provide for annual reports on (1) the number of miles of the international land and maritime border between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico that are under operational DHS control, cumulatively and by sector; and (2) the estimated number of individuals who unlawfully enter the United States annually, the estimated number of individuals unlawfully present in the United States as of the date of each such report, and the number of individuals unlawfully present in the United States who voluntarily exited the United States in the preceding year.

Border security and immigration enforcement are enormous tasks requiring extensive resources. The Federal Government aims to, and must, work with State and local authorities to share the responsibilities and the common goal of a safe and secure America.

Despite the many examples of successful initiative and cooperative efforts, there are plenty of legitimate concerns that must be taken into account when discussing the best way to ensure that America's borders are secure. Significant improvements in technology and infrastructure have been made to the efforts the Federal Government is making to improve border security and immigration enforcement. Reports like the one proposed today are important to achieving our long term goals.

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