Strengthening Immigration Reform: Three Amendments Increasing Congressional Oversight Of DHS And Border Security Pass
May 09 2013
Rubio: “What we’ve always worked on is a starting point. We worked with eight people, four Republicans and four Democrats, crafted what I think is an excellent starting point. Now we’re asking our colleagues for suggestions about how to improve it.” (CBS “This Morning,” 5/9/13)
CONCERN WITH ORIGINAL BILL: While the immigration bill has been described as “the toughest immigration enforcement provisions ever seriously considered in Congress,” there were concerns that the process for securing the border gave too much leeway to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and not enough Congressional oversight to provide serious accountability on the process.
- Senator Ted Cruz: “As it stands, the border security component … largely cedes authority to the Department of Homeland Security to determine when and how the border would be secured.” (Press Release, 5/8/13)
- Chris Crane, President of National ICE Council: “[The bill] relinquishes Congress’ authority to establish border security measures to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will then develop its own unilateral border security plan. DHS is then permitted to measure its own successes and failures after implementing that plan. Clearly recognizing the high probability that this approach will fail and DHS will not develop a successful border security plan, S. 744 establishes a commission to review security at the border five years after the plan has been implemented.” (Law Enforcement Letter to Congress, 5/9/13)
HOW THE AMENDMENTS STRENGTHEN THE BILL: Senators were able to identify ways to improve Congressional oversight of DHS and border security. Three amendments - the Grassley 2, Grassley 5, and Flake 2 - all improved the reporting of progress on border security. The Grassley 2 amendment requires reports on the border to be submitted to both the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary. The Grassley 5 amendment requires the DHS CFO to submit annual audits of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund to Congress and make the report available on the Internet for the general public to review. The Flake 2 amendment revises the schedule for DHS’s submittal of the semiannual status report regarding the implementation of the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy to 180 days after submission, and every 180 days thereafter. Flake 2 also adds the Comptroller General of the U.S. as a recipient of the status report, and adds a requirement for the Comptroller to conduct an annual review of the reports submitted by DHS, as well as require the Comptroller to submit an assessment of the status and progress of the implementation of the Southern Border Security Strategy.
All of the amendments submitted to the Committee on the Judiciary are available online for review here.