Sen. Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, released a 100 page report last week linking America’s unsecure border to the insatiable demand for illegal drugs.
“One root cause of our unsecure border is America’s insatiable demand for drugs,” said Johnson last week at the committee’s 13th hearing dedicated to border security. “Until we take border security seriously in this country, heroin will continue to enter the supply chain through our southwest border to be distributed across all 50 states.”
Sen. Johnson’s report represents a robust first step in the attempt to solve America’s unsecure border: understanding the problem and defining the root causes. The report identifies both “push” and “pull” factors that lead to an unsecure border. The central “push” factor is the drug trade, which leads to all types of trafficking and criminal activity at the border. The overwhelming “pull” factor, or incentive, is the economic opportunity in the United States that drives illegal immigration.
One key finding from Johnson’s report is that after $100 billion spent on border security over the last decade, the border remains unsecure. In certain areas, the border has become more dangerous and lawless during this period.
Sen. Johnson’s report recognizes that there is a lack of bipartisan will to tackle the issue in a comprehensive way and suggests the following piecemeal actions to begin the process of securing the border and solving America’s border, drug, and immigration problems.
A. Require adequate metrics to measure border security across all U.S. borders—land, air, and sea, with appropriate oversight and transparency.
B. Ensure sufficient safeguards are in place in both the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and Visa Waiver Program.
C. Initiate a concentrated public relations campaign to dissuade all Americans, but in particular young people, from using and becoming addicted to drugs.
D. Reform the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) to eliminate incentives for illegal immigration.
E. Provide Border Patrol agents access to federal lands.
F. Require DHS to examine the threats on the northern border.
G. Call on the Chief of the Border Patrol to move agents to areas of high risk.
H. Provide and maintain adequate manpower on our border and satisfy hard to fill vacancies at our ports of entry.
I. Complete the Congressionally mandated fencing requirement along the southwest border and understand our country’s fencing needs and other border security assets to determine what more is necessary.
J. Require each border security technology acquisition program to demonstrate it has an
approved baseline for costs, schedule, and performance.
K. Ensure that successful state and local programs, such as Operation Stonegarden, are used appropriately and efficiently to maximize manpower at and near U.S. borders.
L. Cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities that release criminal aliens into local communities, endangering public safety, and provide immunity to law enforcement officers so that courts cannot prevent them from honoring federal detainers.
M. Ensure the continuation of current Border Patrol programs, such as Operation Streamline, that provide penalties to recent border crossers in order to reduce recidivism.
N. Emphasize intelligence-based strategies at our borders.
O. Authorize the Department’s preclearance agreements.
Six bills dedicated to putting in place these recommendations and reforms have passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, with one recently signed into law.