U.S. House Postpones Contentious Border Bill Indefinitely
Leaders of the House of Representative on Tuesday postponed indefinitely a vote on a border security bill known as the “Secure Our Borders Act.”
The bill would penalize the Department of Homeland Security if it fails to stop all illegal border crossings within five years.
The border bill was sponsored by newly-named Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. He's a Texas Republican who calls his bill the “strongest border security bill” ever.
But Democrats, some moderate Republicans and the union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents disagree.
The bill imposes a five-year deadline for Homeland Security to stop all illegal border crossings, along the entire southwest border with Mexico.
The legislation also calls for more border fencing and a fleet of new drones. The drone proposal does not account for a recent internal DHS report, claiming the border drone program is not a good use of taxpayer money.
Shawn Moran is vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the border patrol agents' union.
Moran said the bill, known as H.R. 399, is a disappointment. The council said the bill would only "serve as window dressing" with respect to border security.
He said it falls short because it doesn’t call for more agents in the field with better equipment.
The council is specifically advocating for an additional 5,000 agents, more M-4 rifles and better communications equipment. None of those points are addressed in the proposed legislation.
“The National Border Patrol Council opposes H.R. 399 in its current form due to its lack of a strategy to increase border security, and its failure to close loopholes that amount to a catch-and-release program for many immigration crimes,” Moran said.
Staff at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. agree. They say Congress should shift its focus from hardware and equipment to creating harsher penalties for people who illegally cross the border.
However H.R. 399 plays out in Congress, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama will veto any border security legislation that would dilute or eliminate his executive orders on deportation standards.