Border-security illusions

We are constantly being told that improved border security will be part of any “comprehensive immigration reform,” in no small part because handing out 11 million sets of amnesty paperwork is likely to trigger the next great rush across the border, particularly if a real economic recovery ever gets around to happening.

On the Republican side, both Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have been very insistent on the linkage between border security and naturalization, differing mostly on the question of when those “triggers” would be invoked.  But while all of these promises are being made, the Obama Administration is almost comically nonchalant about conceding that they have virtually zero interest in border security, and certainly aren’t going to make it a precondition for importing those 11 million new Democrat voters.

Last week, we learned the Department of Homeland Security no longer even bothers to measure border security; the effective metrics were scuttled years ago, with the pretense that it’s all so complex that nobody could possibly measure it accurately.  Improvements were promised in 2010; a few years later, DHS officials admitted to Congress that they have no idea whether any of those promises were kept.  But it all sounded really great back when the promises were made!

Now Byron York at the Washington Examiner brings us Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s contemptuous dismissal of border security triggers:

???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.

???One of the challenges in crafting any reform is that the American people do not have confidence in this administration???s willingness to enforce current immigration law,??? said Alex Conant, spokesman for Marco Rubio, the Republican senator and Gang of Eight member who has staked considerable political capital on the negotiations.  ???Senator Rubio and several members of the immigration working group share these concerns, and it???s reflected in the solution they are trying to craft. Our legislation will include real security triggers to make sure out borders are secured.???

No, it won’t, Mr. Conant.  Napolitano just said so.  Senator Rubio and his Gang of Eight colleagues are making a promise the Administration is openly telling us will not be kept.  It’s like the salesman in a used-car lot making promises of service excellence and warranty protection, with the guys from the service department lounging five feet away and laughing themselves silly at everything he says.  “Full drive-train warranty?  Yeah, that’ll be the day.  Nobody in this joint even knows how to do that kind of work.  And good luck getting that loaner car they keep promising you!”

We’ve already seen this Administration ignore all sorts of laws it doesn’t like, including immigration policies.  If Republican immigration reformers manage to keep their “triggers,” they’ll find themselves sitting at hearings in 2014 or 2016 where Napolitano and her aides assure them yes, absolutely, those triggers have been met, and then some.  No, we can’t prove it, and we won’t even try.  You’ll have to take our word for it.  And if they don’t, well, the campaign ads branding them as heartless xenophobes have already been written.  No one in their right minds could possibly think the “naturalization” process could be halted in midstream by angry Republicans who doubt the border has been properly secured.

Senator Rubio’s obvious sincerity has made him a leader in the immigration reform debate.  It’s time for him to be painfully sincere, and admit that his Administration “partners” cannot possibly be trusted to keep the security promises he has been making.  Let’s hear those proposals again, without all this silly talk of “triggers” that lead to sniggers from Homeland Security, and see if they still make sense.