Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

Email Candice Miller Candice Miller on Facebook Subscribe to Candice Miller's RSS Feed

Candice Miller’s border security bill passes House

by Candice Miller on November 30, 2012

By Chad Selweski

Macomb Daily

The Department of Homeland Security would be required to report detailed progress on U.S. border security on a mile-by-mile basis, under a bill authored by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller that was approved by the House earlier this week.


Concerns over border security rose dramatically on Capitol Hill when the Government Accountability Office reported last year that only 44 percent of the Southern border was under full “operational control,” and that only 32 miles of the 4,000-mile Northern border had reached that same level of acceptable security.


“For years, Congress and the American people relied on operational control as a proxy for border security. It became the de-facto term of art that indicated how much or how little of the border the Border Patrol could effectively control,” said Miller, a Harrison Township Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.


“In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security stopped reporting the number of miles of border under operational control with the promise of a new, more holistic measure of border security called the Border Condition Index. Nearly three years later, we are still waiting for the introduction of that measure without any idea if it will ever be used.”


In addition to reporting operational control, the bill would require the department to estimate the number of unlawful entries between ports of entry to give the Congress and the public an accurate assessment of border security effectiveness.


Operational control refers to the Border Patrol’s ability to respond to an incident and its pre-planned collaboration with local and state law enforcement agencies.


The previous border patrol strategy, initiated in 2004, was designed to gain and maintain “operational control” of the border. But a new 2012 border patrol strategy still lacks a standard to measure progress, according to critics.


Miller’s bill passed on Wednesday by a unanimous voice vote of the House but now heads to the Senate, where it faces a highly uncertain future.


In May, the House passed another Miller bill that would require the DHS to develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting the borders and all land, air, and sea ports of entry.


That legislation, which is now in the Senate, seeks to upgrade port protections by enhancing U.S. security measures overseas before a threat in the form of a ship or its cargo reaches American shores.


The bipartisan bill seeks a stronger collaborative environment between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard in sharing port security duties. It also would reduce duplication by relying upon the maritime security work of trusted allies.


As for the newest legislation, Miller said the DHS has become lax in keeping tabs on its own effectiveness.


“It is time for the department to provide a suitable measure that adequately captures the security situation on the border,” she said. “Until then, the department should resume reporting miles of operational control. It boils down to: trust, but verify.”

Previous post:

Next post: