- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2011

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday called a new plan by the Department of Homeland Security to develop a “border security index” to measure enforcement progress along the Southwest border “nothing short of inflated facts and figures to give them an excuse to say the border is secure.”

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said the Obama administration had “cooked the books” on border security for the past two years and he didn’t expect the results of the proposed new index to be any different.

“No matter what kind of index the administration produces, they cannot change the facts and the truth. The reality 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,” Mr. Smith said.

On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee she has asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to come up with another way to measure what she described as the true state of security along the border. She said she wants information about how many people have been deterred from trying to cross in the first place, as well as statistics that would show the increasingly violent clashes and collateral damage fueled by the drug trade.


Miss Napolitano said the new yardstick would better reflect the improvements the administration says it has made along the border, adding that the agency’s longtime mantra of gaining “operational control” of U.S. borders had become obsolete. She said the new index would include crime, immigration and economic data.

“Operational control — its an archaic term,” Miss Napolitano told the committee.

During the hearing, the committee’s ranking Republican, Susan M. Collins of Maine, noted that some 300 bodies had been discovered in mass graves just 90 miles from Brownsville, Texas, and last month FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III reported that drug cartels constituted a threat “to the security of the entire country.”

“This backdrop explains why many were perplexed to hear Secretary Napolitano state in late March that security on the southern U.S. border is ‘better now than it ever has been’ and that violence from neighboring Mexico has not edged north,” she said.

With the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress chief watchdog, saying less than half of the southern border is under “operational control,” the Obama administration has been distancing itself from that measure for more than a year.

“The Government Accountability Office and Border Patrol agents on the ground know the truth,” said Mr. Smith. “According to a recent GAO report, only 44 percent of the southwest border is under the ‘operational control’ of the Border Patrol. Mexican drug cartels are out of control and the violence threatens to spill over into the United States. And each year, millions of illegal immigrants enter the U.S.”

In February, the GAO said the U.S. had operational control along 873 miles of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Of those miles, just 15 percent were designated as “controlled,” while the rest were designated a slightly lesser category of “managed.”