New Congress, Old Divisions

Border security is a reasonable idea that most Americans support. It is also used as an excuse to stop the advancement of an immigration reform, by demanding what’s impossible to achieve over such a long dividing line as the one between the United States and Mexico.

The Secure the Border First Act, by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), perfectly falls into the category of unachievable. The HouseouseH bill, which would cost $10 billion, requires that in the next two years the Homeland Security (DHS) secretary will have “operative control” of the busiest areas, and, in five years, of the whole southern border. To do so, the bill requires deploying new technology, building more walls and implementing a biometric system in the exit points. Otherwise, bonuses or raises for some DHS officials will be withheld.

The definition of “operative control” used in this measure basically means preventing every illegal entry, which is impossible.

It’s a shame that McCaul has changed the reasonable proposal that was presented last year, which required the DHS to develop a security plan to send to Congress so it decides what is needed to make it a reality.

Times have changed with the new Republican Congress but the divisions over immigration remain the same. Thus, this bill is opposed both by Democrats who see it as wasteful, and anti-immigration hardliners who say it’s not doing anything against Obama’s executive action, nor it changes detention procedures. There are even some who, ridiculously, fear that this measure will be the gateway to “amnesty” by the legislative leadership.

Clearly, the new Congress has retained the same old internal divisions. This bill, which will be voted this week, is an early test to the Republican leadership in Congress. We’ll see if they are capable of advancing legislation or if they once again fall into the partisan chaos the migratory issue usually causes.

The signals are worrying and, in spite of words and signs, there is nothing new about this Congress