“Relying on one thing as a so-called trigger is not the way to go,” Napolitano told a breakfast meeting of journalists. Asked about her department’s recent revelation that it will not produce a long-promised method of measuring border security, known as the Border Condition Index, Napolitano said, “We’re confident that the border is as secure as it’s ever been. But there’s no one number that captures that.” Without a way to measure border security, many Republican reform advocates say, there’s no way to go forward with a reform agreement.

Napolitano’s comments were one more bit of evidence, if Republicans needed any, that the Obama administration does not intend to make enhanced border security a precondition of immigration reform. “Every position and action the administration takes is consistent with the idea that they have no desire to accomplish immigration security,” said one GOP Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.