Great news: Feds have quietly given up on measuring border security

This will be spun by the Gang of Eight, of course, as evidence that their bill is needed now more than ever to force DHS to get serious about the border. In reality, it’s evidence that no matter how many promises Congress makes about border security, there’s no reason to believe they’re committed to maximizing enforcement.

I was undecided yesterday but now I’m formally prepared to endorse the libertarian position on immigration. “Open borders: At least it’s honest.”

More than two years after Homeland Security officials told Congress that they would produce new, more accurate standards to assess security at the nation’s borders, senior officials from the department acknowledged this week that they had not completed the new measurements and were not likely to in coming months, as the debate proceeds about overhauling the immigration system.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were taken aback at a hearing on Wednesday in the House of Representatives when Mark Borkowski, a senior Homeland Security official, said he had no progress to report on a broad measure of border conditions the department had been working on since 2010. The lawmakers warned that failure by the Obama administration to devise a reliable method of border evaluation could imperil passage of immigration legislation…

“We need to have a measurement,” Senator John McCain of Arizona insisted at a hearing in the Senate last week.

“We need to assure the American people that we have effective control of the border and we have made advances to achieve that,” he said. “I need to have something to assure people they are not going to live in fear.”

You know things are bad when even McCain’s frustrated with the lack of oversight, although in fairness that’s just because he’s eager for a fig leaf to show border hawks so that they’ll sign off on legalization. Byron York has more from the hearing:

Miller appeared stunned and practically begged Borkowski, along with two other Homeland Security officials who were testifying, to tell her what she wanted to hear. “I’m just trying to let this all digest,” she said. “We’re sort of sitting here, as a Congress … At what point will you be able to give us something?”

She never got an answer.

Even Democrats who oppose tying immigration reform to border security realized they were being played. “I would say to the department, you’ve got to get in the game,” said a frustrated-sounding Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “At some point, we’re going to have to have DHS work with us more concretely about the confidence of the security of the border.”

Rep. Ron Barber, the Democrat who replaced Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, noted, “The Border Patrol rolled out last May a new strategy that didn’t have goals, didn’t have metrics, didn’t have a process for evaluation. That’s not really a plan, is it?”

Follow the link for a quick and dirty history of laws passed by Congress over the past 15 years aimed at strengthening the feds’ ability to track immigrants who illegally overstayed their work visas. Fifteen years later, Republicans like Rubio and Rand Paul who are pushing comprehensive reform assure us that this time will be different. Incidentally, Chuck Schumer claimed last night that the Gang of Eight has reached a deal on 90 percent of its new immigration bill — including the path to citizenship. Work visas have been a sticky issue from the start and reportedly were as sticky as ever as recently as yesterday, so I assume that’s what accounts for most of the remaining 10 percent. How about border security, though? Has a deal been reached yet on whether border improvements will or won’t be used as a trigger for legalizing the 11 million illegals who are already here? At this point, if I’m Schumer, I’d give Rubio and the GOP basically anything they ask for on security. DHS obviously won’t be sticklers in carrying out the law, and as we get closer to 2016 the Republicans in Congress won’t be sticklers about holding them accountable for it. It’s a fig leaf for the amnesty provisions in the bill, so what’s the harm in making the fig leaf a little bigger than it might have been? Democrats are big winners here. Give the GOP whatever they need to rubber-stamp this thing and then declare victory.