- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2016

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul on Friday proposed a new “security toll” he said the U.S. could assess on all visitors from Mexico, with the money going to fund President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall.

Mr. McCaul, who is auditioning for Homeland Security secretary in the Trump administration, also said in a commentary on Foxnews.com that other Latin American countries’ visitors should pay the fee, given that illegal immigrants from Central America have overtaken Mexicans as the majority of border-jumpers.

The Texas Republican, who has faced criticism from some border security groups for not being strict enough on illegal immigration, laid out a long list of moves he supports, starting with canceling President Obama’s deportation amnesties, creating a new system to make sure visitors leave when their visas expire, and revamping the asylum system to prevent it from being abused.

Paying for Mr. Trump’s border wall has been controversial from the moment then-candidate Trump announced it in the summer of 2015. Mexico has insisted it won’t fund the barrier, and Mr. Trump’s opponents have mocked his pledge as unserious or unattainable.

But Mr. McCaul said the U.S. can stick Mexico on a “payment plan” that includes new immigration fees for those crossing the border from Mexico. The “security toll” would apply not just to Mexicans but all crossers from the south making their way north, which would mean it also would snare Central Americans, he said.

“Other countries in Latin America have contributed to the crisis — and failed to rein in the chaos — so they should also help pay for these fixes, too,” he said in the commentary.

Mr. McCaul last week got a vote of confidence for the Homeland Security job from the current occupant, Secretary Jeh Johnson, who said the Texas Republican is the strongest border security advocate in Congress.

For his part Mr. McCaul, at a forum with Mr. Johnson sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, bristled at criticism from immigration security groups.

“To say somehow I am not strong on immigration is laughable because, whether it’s sanctuary cities to every vote on the floor of the House, I have strongly voted against illegal immigration,” he said. “I have co-sponsored virtually every bill. I introduced the SAFE Act, which would stop the flow of Syrian refugees into this country. I also strongly support the Secure Fence Act.”

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