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The extent of the gaps in border security is huge. A recent Los Angeles Times report showed that by using proven aerial surveillance equipment from Afghanistan, we can now see just how much we’ve been missing. The data shows that the Border Patrol is apprehending less than half of illegal border crossers in certain sectors, which is significantly less than current estimates.
While this report is startling, it offers insight into what should be the pathway to securing our borders. We can upgrade our capabilities by incorporating existing taxpayer-owned technology such as Department of Defense Sensor Surveillance equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to gain comprehensive visibility of the border landscape. Once we have the complete picture of who we are missing, we allocate patrol and response teams appropriately and ultimately gauge our progress.
I have introduced bipartisan legislation in the House, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has introduced the Senate version, to accomplish these goals by compelling the DHS to finally develop a comprehensive outcome-based strategy for securing our borders that incorporates advanced technology to achieve visibility of our entire border, metrics and manpower allocation based on that situational awareness and a timeline for development. The results of the strategy will be verified by outside experts.
Americans experienced the lack of follow-through on border security after the last major immigration overhaul in 1986. As we broach the same subject, the safety and security of our homeland cannot again fall by the wayside. Last week’s bombings in Boston are a stark reminder that the terrorist threat against America still exists and that it has never been more important to secure the homeland.
The administration may claim the border has been secured, but there are around 11 million people whose presence suggests otherwise. Ten years from now, we cannot have this same conversation. American individuals, immigrants and the dedicated public servants working on our borders deserve better this time around. We can solve the equation this time.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.