Ron has continued his work pushing for real solutions to keep terrorists out of the United States, secure the border, and fight the president’s reckless plan to close Guantanamo Bay.
Bureaucratic problems and technological flaws are poking holes in U.S. border security and have allowed “known human traffickers” to legally enter the country with their victims, a federal watchdog agency testified on Tuesday.
Speaking before a Senate committee, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general listed deep concerns about the government’s efforts to modernize its border controls, highlighting a potential national security risk.
“There is also risk to our national security, in that we may be admitting individuals who do not meet the requirements for a visa,” he added.
The concerns expressed are likely to further inflame concerns about security mechanisms within U.S. visa programs. The programs have been under intense scrutiny following terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., late last year that left scores of people dead.
Immediately following those attacks, U.S. officials scrambled to shore up security systems to prevent foreigners intent on causing harm from using legal visa processes to come into the country.
“Are we doing all we can to screen and vet these applicants before they become a threat to the country?” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the head of the Homeland Security Committee, wondered on Tuesday.
For U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, border security has emerged as one of his signature issues.
In the past year, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has held more than a dozen hearings, traveled to Central America and issued a report on U.S. border security.
It’s uncertain how Republican Johnson’s focus on the border will affect his re-election race against Democratic challenger Russ Feingold. And it’s not at all clear that Johnson is even weighing how it all plays politically.
“My approach to the campaign is to continue to do my job,” he said in a recent interview. “I look at our unsecured border as a problem as it relates to illegal immigration. I want to solve that problem.”
Johnson is critical of President Barack Obama’s administration, which he claimed has taken an all-or-nothing approach to immigration reform. Instead, Johnson favors a “step by step approach” to solving the issue that begins with improved border security.
He said the Obama administration has encouraged its Democratic allies in the U.S. Senate “not to do anything on immigration reform, which includes border security, unless it’s comprehensive. Of course, by comprehensive, they mean a path to citizenship.”
Johnson said, “Politically, I don’t think the American people will support comprehensive reform until they see the government on a bipartisan fashion, finally serious about and committed to dramatically increasing border security.”
Johnson, trained as an accountant, said he has been working with Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, and others to fashion a “pretty simple border metrics bill,” to provide an objective way to measure border security.
A major root cause of the border problem, the senator said, is America’s “insatiable demand for drugs” that fuels drug cartels operating south of the border.
He also claimed there are “incentives” for illegal immigration, the biggest being the ability to get jobs in the United States. He said “we ought to turn that into a legal process. You’d have to do that with a guest worker program” with input from the states that would include “different prevailing wages based on the industries so we don’t depress America wages.”
During a hearing last week, Johnson highlighted what he called “the crisis of unaccompanied children coming in from Central America.” He said the problem is growing worse than in 2014, when there was a surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I think everyone is burying their head in the sand on that one,” he said.
Johnson, chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, followed up by sponsoring legislation requiring the Obama administration to provide an unclassified notice to Congress containing specific information on Gitmo detainees transferred to a foreign country.
“The American people deserve to know when and where President Obama plans to transfer detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay,” Johnson said in a statement on the Terrorist Release Transparency Act. The information should be public, not hidden by unnecessary classification. “Many of the former Guantanamo detainees transferred to foreign countries have gone on to re-engage in terrorism, or are believed to have done so.
“The threat posed by the terrorists held at the Guantanamo facility must be addressed seriously and transparently,” he said.