- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As the adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But according to the Obama administration, if at first you don’t succeed, manipulate the results. This especially applies to its border security plan.

During a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano unveiled plans to develop a “border security index” to measure enforcement progress along the southwestern border.

According to Miss Napolitano, the border security index will include crime, immigration and economic data. She thinks this new test will produce a passing grade for the administration and back their claims that the border is more secure than ever.

Among their repeated talking points, administration officials claim the border is secure because deportations are up and apprehensions are down. But it appears they have inflated their professed border security achievements.

The Obama administration used questionable methods to achieve the record deportation numbers.

In fact, DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) included more than 19,000 immigrants who had exited the previous fiscal year. ICE also continued operation of a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer than it had done previously, allowing the agency to count at least 6,500 exits that otherwise would not have been included. ICE also used “voluntary return” to bolster deportation numbers, but this is not removal because it does not subject an illegal immigrant to penalties for returning to the United States.

Another media report highlights allegations by some local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents that they have been ordered to stop apprehending illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Based on its report card, the Obama administration’s new border security index will be nothing short of manipulated facts and figures toprovide an excuse to say the border is secure. But if the border security index were based on fact rather than fiction, it would be better named an Insecurity Index.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), of the nearly 2,000 miles separating the United States and Mexico, just 44 percent are under the “operational control” of the Border Patrol and just 15 percent are under “full control.” Less than 50 percent is a failing grade. The GAO also found that efforts by the Border Patrol to stop illegal crossings were “poor.”

Mexican drug cartels are out of control, and the violence threatens to spill over into the United States. In the past five years, more than 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico because of drug-related violence. Recently, an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent was killed and another injured when their vehicle was shot at by unidentified gunmen.

Last year alone, three Americans lost their lives because of drug-related border violence. In 2010, there also were more than 1,000 incidents of violence against Border Patrol agents. In December, Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed while doing his job of protecting the border.

Each year, millions of illegal immigrants try to enter the United States. During fiscal 2010, nearly half a million people were apprehended trying to enter the country illegally - and those are just the ones we caught.Border Patrol agents on the ground estimatethere are three successful illegal entries for every one illegal immigrant who is apprehended. That means more than 1 million illegal immigrants cross into the U.S. each year.

No matter what kind of index the administration manufactures, it cannot change the facts. The truth is that there are massive holes in security along the southern border and the Obama administration has ignored this growing problem for the past two years.

The administration’s index is just a cover-up for inaction. There is no substitute for improved border security coupled with increased interior enforcement of drug and immigration laws.

The administration wants to change the test until it comes up with the results it wants. But it will not succeed in convincing the American people that the border is secure.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.