The House will vote January 4 to make the Homeland Security Committee permanent. House leaders will have to decide by then whether to give the committee jurisdiction over immigration control issues–including border security and interior enforcement of immigration laws.
The Judiciary Committee currently handles immigration enforcement even though all the functions of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service have been moved out of the Justice Department and into the new Homeland Security Department. If the Homeland Security Committee, chaired by conservative Rep. Chris Cox (R.-Calif.), does get jurisdiction over immigration, Democrats will no longer be able to complain that the issue “doesn’t belong” as part of security legislation–as they did in debate over the recent intelligence bill. One obstacle remains to the natural shift in committee jurisdictions: It must be decided by Rules Chairman David Dreier (R.-Calif.), whose 2004 vote rating from U.S. Border Control was an anemic 10%.