U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today sent the following letter to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne regarding his concerns about S. 744, "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act."
The full text of the letter is below.
May 24, 2013
The Honorable Tom Horne
1275 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Attorney General Horne,
Thank you for sharing your concern regarding S. 744, "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act." Please be assured that we appreciate your concern about the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) exercising unfettered unilateral authority to determine if the border is secure and share your lack of trust with this Administration to secure the border. It exactly for these reasons we insisted that the multiple triggers required under this legislation before anyone illegally in the country can even apply for legal status be (1) many; (2) onerous; (3) objective; (4) calculated to result in fact in an effectively secure border; and (5) subject to robust congressional oversight.
Specifically, our legislation would require the Secretary of DHS to issue a Border Security Strategy and Border Fencing Strategy to Congress to achieve effective control of the southern border. In other words, before being able to certify to anything, the Secretary would have to produce to Congress a plan to maintain persistent surveillance along the border that would stop more than 9 out of 10 illegal entries. Moreover, this plan will be audited by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for accuracy and reported to Congress prior to implementation.
Under our bill, every six months after that, DHS would be required to report to Congress on how effectively it is implementing its plan, any impediments to fulfilling the plan, and what actions it will take to address such impediments. Again, GAO will audit the work of DHS, assisting Congress in holding DHS accountable before anyone can certify to anything. In addition, DHS will report on the effectiveness rate of Border Patrol (the percentage of illegal border crossers stopped versus those that got away) and recidivist rates of illegal crossers. If DHS fails to do this within 5 years, a commission would convene, comprised of Southern border state officials and border security experts to provide recommendations to DHS and Congress on how to achieve effective control of the border and have additional $2 billion to fulfill those recommendations.
Further, no person who is in Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) status would be eligible to apply for a green card until the resources to achieve effective control of the border are deployed and operational; a nationwide employment verification system is fully deployed and operational; and an entry-exit system at our air and land ports is in place and working. These triggers are not determinations left up to the whims of a DHS secretary. They are, by their nature, objective and calculated to result in effective control of our borders. We have ensured though this legislation that this process will be transparent to the American people, subject to intense scrutiny of Congress, and routinely audited by the GAO to ensure accuracy.
Our primary focus in developing this legislation is for the safety and well-being of Arizonans living along the border and throughout the state. Their safety is the impetus for our involvement to reform our immigration system and influences every decision we make during this process.
Perhaps the centerpiece of our reform effort is an unprecedented increase in resources that will be directed at helping to ensure security along the Southern border. Our legislation provides an immediate $4.5 billion to be used to deploy technology, build new infrastructure, and hire additional personnel. In addition, for the first time in history, the Border Patrol will be required to report to Congress on a biannual basis objective metrics that will help Congress and the public determine the success of its agents in apprehending illegal border crossers.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We agree that this Administration has left much to be desired with regards to securing the border. This is the reason why, rather than relying on the subjective interpretation of any elected bureaucrat, we developed an approach to border security that would be based on objective metrics to provide empirical data to determine the level of security along the border, a strategic plan that will allow Congress to hold DHS accountable to doing so, and an unprecedented amount of resources dedicated to that very effort.
If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know.