How Congress And The President Are Working Behind-The-Scenes To Un-Do The Secure Fence Act
Despite grandiose claims, our government has built just 5 miles of the the 854 miles of double-layer border fence mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. While this fact is outrageous in and of itself, it begs a question: Why?
If the law mandated a double layer fence covering 854 miles of fencing, then how come such little progress has been made?
The truth is Congress and the President are playing games with the American people -- pretending to support a real border fence but then working behind the scenes to ensure that the Secure Fence Act is never really implemented.
Secure Fence Act Hoax of 2006
In the fall of 2006 when Congress passed and the President signed into law the Secure Fence Act, most Americans thought they understood what they were getting. The plain text of the law states that "the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for [at] least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors" along a specified range of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Act then stipulated the precise regions of the border, covering a total of 854 miles. Before the Senate passed the Secure Fence Act, Senate leaders had already hatched a plan to, in essence, un-do the Act. More precisely stated, Congress passed another law giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discretion over how and where the fence would actually be built. That night, after the Secure Fence Act was passed, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison rose to the floor of the Senate and expressed her concern that the Act was too restrictive and would impose too much of a burden on Texas' border communities. of fencing and other physical infrastructure along the southwest border of the
A deal had already been struck to basically un-do the Secure Fence Act before the vote was even taken. The whole event was carefully staged to create the impression that Congress was clamping down on illegal immigration. Interestingly, as the Senate was voting on the Secure Fence Act vote, it became clear that Congress had decided that saving their seats is more important than securing the borders."
It gets worse. The funding bill passed by Congress required that DHS report to Congress on how it would spend the funds prior to most of the funds being release. It is in DHS's report that it becomes clear that neither Congress nor the Administration really ever intended on adhering to the Secure Fence Act. First, DHS's plan -- called SBInet (Secure Borders Initiative) -- does not reference the goals of the Secure Fence Act. Second, DHS's report back to Congress in December 2006 openly questioned whether the border fence was necessary.
Instead, DHS arbitrarily decided there should be 570 miles of total border barriers, of which 370 miles would be actual pedestrian fencing (not double layer). Thus, instead of 854 miles of double-layer fencing, DHS set a goal of 370 miles of "pedestrian" fencing (i.e. not double-layer fencing). It is clear that DHS felt no obligation to fulfill the specific requirements of the Secure Fence Act.
But that's just the beginning....
Border Fence Funding Scam of 2007
Skip ahead to this fall as Congress has been considering a $3 billion funding bill for border security and allegedly the fence. As you may know, that amendment was stripped out of the Department of Defense appropriations bill last week. But even if they had passed the $3 billion funding amendment, DHS will not be required to use any of that money for the border fence! Not ONE DIME!
That's because of another amendment put forward by Sen. Hutchison that said DHS would not have to build the fence. This Amendment (SA 3176) seems, at first glance, to support building a fence. It is entitled "Improvement of Barrier At Border" and states in Subparagraph A:
"(A) REINFORCED FENCING.--In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective and provide for the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors to gain operational control of the southwest border."
Note the phrase "where fencing would be most practical and effective." Basically, DHS has an opt-out clause built in. But it gets worse. Page Two of the Hutchison amendment then states:
"(D) LIMITATION ON REQUIREMENTS.--Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location"
Just in case Subparagraph A was not clear enough, Hutchison added Subparagraph D to leave no room for doubt that this amendment is intended to make sure DHS is under no legal obligation to ever build any fence, never mind the 854 miles of double-layer fencing mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. "Notwithstanding" means "in spite of." Thus, Subparagraph D says that in spite of anything stated in Subparagraph A, DHS is under no mandate to build the fence.