Border Security and the Senate “Gang of 8’s” Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

By Tom K. Wong, tomkwong@ucsd.edu, @twong002

The 2013 version of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) now has a name: the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Here is a preliminary summary of the border security aspects of the bill (jump to the bottom for main takeaways). The Senate “gang of 8’s” summary outline can be found here. The link between border security and legalization/path to citizenship will be discussed in more detail in my next post.

The Goal of Border Security: 90% Effectiveness Rate

Unsurprisingly, border security plays a prominent role in the Senate “gang of 8’s” bill. Within 6-months of enactment, the bill will require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a plan to achieve “effective control” along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill will appropriate $3 billion for this. The bill defines one of the main goals of border security as being a 90% effectiveness rate.

  • 90% Effectiveness Rate   The bill defines the “effectiveness rate” as the number of persons who are apprehended at the border divided by the total number of unauthorized entries. A 90% effectiveness rate thus means that 9 out of every 10 unauthorized entries will be detected and deterred.
  • Surveillance Capabilities   The $3 billion will also be used to a) integrate surveillance technologies used by the Department of Defense in border security efforts, b) add additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, and c) deploy additional drones along the Southern border.

Southern Border Security Commission

If border security goals are not met within 5 years, a “Southern Border Security Commission” will be established and the bill will include an additional $2 billion to implement a second phase of border security measures. The Border Commission would be comprised of the Governors of border states, as well as border security experts. It is interesting to note that if a 90% effectiveness rate is achieved within 5 years, the $2 billion dollars will be used to bolster interior immigration enforcement efforts.

Border Fencing and Technologies

The bill will appropriate an additional $1.5 billion for border fencing.

  • Border Fencing and Technology   An additional $1.5 billion will be used to implement the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” which will reinforce existing border fencing, add double- and triple-layered fencing in some areas, and improve the technologies used in monitoring the fences along the Southern border.

Here are the quick takeaways:

  • Up to $6.5 billion for border security
  • The “Border Security Goal” is a 90% effectiveness rate
  • 6-months to create a plan to achieve this goal
  • If the goal is not achieved within 5-years, a “Southern Border Security Commission” will be established
  • Monies appropriated for border security will be used for, among other things:
    • Additional CBP personnel
    • Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border
    • Integrate surveillance technologies used by the DOD in border security efforts
    • Reinforce and construct new fencing, including double- and triple-layered fencing
    • Deploy additional drones along the Southern border
    • Construct new checkpoints along the Southern border
    • Add new border patrol stations along the Southern border
    • Enhance local cooperation with CBP personnel (e.g., Operation Stonegarden)