Immigration and Border Security

The Senate’s bill on immigration reform purports to include a requirement for border security that must be met before a citizenship path for existing illegal aliens can begin.

Regardless of what we might think about the strength of that requirement, it demands data on current and trigger border security levels.  Those data may not be available:

[CRS and GAO] reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service show the Department of Homeland Security lacks an accurate barometer to measure the success of ramped-up efforts to curtail illegal crossings.

…[they have the] number of apprehensions of people coming in illegally….  But those numbers…don’t necessarily show whether an increase or decrease is due to immigration trends, economic shifts, enforcement policies or all of the above.


Apprehensions data…exclude two important groups when it comes to unauthorized migration: aliens who successfully enter and remain in the United States…and aliens who are deterred from entering the United States[.]

That these data are hard to collect (the deterrence factor may be impossible to assess) in no way increases the reliability of apprehensions as a measure of security.

The GAO’s beef also includes a lack of data availability for the several immigration-involved agencies that would benefit from them: “a lack of interagency coordination and information sharing” and “inconsistency in data collection.”

This is just one more example of the lack of reliability of what this government tells us, and in this case it has—or should have—a direct impact on this government’s ability to achieve immigration reform, which is badly needed in any event.

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