Campaign 2010

Sep 14, 2006

After Years of Border Failures, GOP’s Fence Initiative an Attempt to Hide Their Record

DCCC Press

Sep 14, 2006

After Years of Border Failures, GOP’s Fence Initiative an Attempt to Hide Their Record

Election Year Focus on Immigration a Sham After Years of Failing to Secure the Border or Enforce our Laws

The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003. [Washington Post, 6/20/06]

In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three. [Washington Post, 6/20/06]

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, House Republican leaders will try to refocus the national attention on illegal immigration by bringing up a fence initiative, but with no record of success to speak of, this is little more than an election-year ploy. In just the latest attempt to rewrite their records of failure on border security, the Republican Congress is revisiting the notion of building 700 miles of fencing on the U.S.-Mexican border. Republicans in Congress have voted against securing our borders by failing to fund border patrol agents and by failing to prosecute and fine employers who hire illegal immigrants. For all of the Republican rhetoric, their record is full of inaction and failure as the problem continues to grow. American families have seen, through months of GOP speeches and even failed field hearings that when faced with a crisis on the borders, the Republican Party cannot be trusted to secure our nation.

“The sudden push for a fence on the border is the latest GOP attempt to put a fresh coat of paint on years of border security failures timed with an impending election,” asked Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The truth is that the Republican Congress has failed to secure our border or enforce our laws and with November fast approaching, they’re using the fence to try and play catch-up. It’s time for a new direction on border security because we deserve a Congress who will fully fund protecting our border and finally prosecute those who break the law, regardless of the calendar.”

Last year, the Republican Congress voted against billions in funding for border security, twice against cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and against the recommendations of the widely respected, bipartisan 9/11 Commission. It’s time for a new direction on border security.

Republicans in Congress Voted Against $2.1 Billion More in Border Security Funding. In May, the Republican Congress voted to kill a Democratic effort to secure more funding for the Homeland Security appropriations bill. One of the amendments Republicans voted to kill would have provided $3.5 billion to improve homeland security, including $2.1 billion for enhanced border security, $600 million for enhanced port security, $600 million for equipping and training first responders and increasing disaster preparedness, and $200 million for expanding explosive detection systems at airports. [Leadership Document, Democrats are Fighting for Increased Border, Port, and Aviation Security, 5/25/06; HR 5441, Vote #210, 5/25/2006]

Republicans in Congress Voted Against Fulfilling 9/11 Commission Recommendations On Border Security & Immigration. In 2005, the Republican Congress voted against an alternative proposal to improve border security and immigration enforcement by fulfilling the 9/11 Commission's border security recommendations. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued its final report card that highlighted the many failures of the Republican Congress and Bush administration in implementing the commission's recommendations. The alternative proposal would have hired more border agents, ended the "catch and release" practice by authorizing 100,000 additional detention beds and incorporated state-of-the art surveillance technology, including cameras, sensors, radar, satellites, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in order to ensure 100% border coverage. [Reps. Conyers, Thompson and Reyes Dear Colleague, "Fulfilling the 9/11 Commission's Recommendations," 12/16/05; HR 4437, Vote #660, 12/16/2005]

Republicans in Congress Voted For Massive Cuts To Homeland Security & Border Enforcement Efforts. In 2005, the Republican Congress voted against an effort to strip a 1% across-the-board cut to all "discretionary" programs that had been attached to the FY 2006 defense spending bill. The cuts included a $48 million cut to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. Of this amount, nearly $19 million would be cut from security operations between the ports of entry on our borders - i.e., the Border Patrol. In order to absorb this cut, CBP would be unable to hire, train, equip, and deploy approximately 100 new Border Patrol agents. Preparedness, Mitigation, Recovery and Response programs within FEMA will be reduced by $2 million dollars. Cutting these programs will reduce funding for programs like catastrophic planning, including planning for mass evacuations. [Senate Committee on Appropriations Minority Staff, 12/19/05; HR 2863, Vote #668, 12/19/2005]

Republicans in Congress Voted Against $284 Million Boost To Plug Gaping Holes In Nation's Borders. The vote was against an effort to add $284 million to an emergency spending bill for securing the nation's borders. The 9/11 Commission highlighted that the United States lacked a true border security system, and that illegal entry across our borders was far too easy. The added funding would have hired 550 additional border patrol agents and 200 additional immigration investigators. Finally, the proposal would have provided funding for unmanned border aerial vehicles, which have been used successfully in a test in Arizona to assist in surveillance. Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Loy testified that unmanned aerial vehicles had proved "invaluable." The motion failed, 201-225. [HR 1268, Vote #160, 5/5/2005; Failed 201-225; R 2-225; D 198-0; I 1-0]