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Paper: U.S. must have border security 'yardstick' for reform

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Arizona’s biggest newspaper is arguing in an editorial that comprehensive immigration reform could be “doomed” if Department of Homeland Security Janet A. Napolitano fails to come up with a yardstick for measuring border security.

The Arizona Republic said President Obama must ramp up pressure on Ms. Napolitano, a former governor of the state, to develop a “simple standard for measuring border security” — a project she started working for in 2010. The office of Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican working on a bipartisan immigration overhaul bill, immediately fired off an email highlighting the paper’s stance.

“Without that tool, comprehensive immigration reform could be doomed,” the Arizona Republic editorial board wrote. “Members of Congress want a clear answer to whether the massive buildup of resources on the border has been effective. This is particularly important to border hawks who remain skeptical of reform. They need convincing, and ‘trust me’ is not good enough.”

Lawmakers say that the border must be secured before the millions of illegal immigrants already living here are granted legal status and given a pathway to citizenship.

Ms. Napolitano told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor last week that the border is more secure than ever, but said there is no single way to measure it.

DHS planned to developed a “border condition index” after tossing out the previous yardstick of miles of the border under “operational control,” but that new system has never come to fruition.

“At a time when hard facts matter, the DHS is serving bureaucratic mush,” the Arizona Republic said, adding that supporters of comprehensive immigration reform can make a stronger case for an overhaul of the immigration system if they can prove the border is secure. “Obama used a naturalization ceremony last week to say, ‘The time has come for comprehensive immigration reform.’ He wants Congress to act. He needs to tell Napolitano the clock is ticking on her desk, too. Her failure gives Congress an excuse not to act.”

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