Without principled leadership from congressional leaders, it may not have a snowball’s chance in a Tegucigalpa summer. But legislation to fund and build a wall on America’s southern border makes more sense than ever.
So now comes the “Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act” that:
- Creates a border security trust fund from revenue streams it generates.
- Incentivizes foreign governments to cooperate with U.S. border security efforts by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to yearly tally illegal apprehensions on the southern border by nationality. This figure would be used to deduct by $2,000 per alien the amount of foreign aid provided to the countries of those border-crossers.
- Assesses a 5 percent fee on all outbound international remittances. This will generate significant revenue. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, some $138 billion was sent out of the United States. More than $28 billion went to Mexico alone. That’s a $6.9 billion a year revenue stream for DHS.
- Raises the fee for obtaining alien admission form I-94 from the outdated and wholly inadequate amount of $6 to $25.
- Removes exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act for Border Patrol agents, restoring the overtime pay they received prior to the Border Patrol Pay Reform Act.
In addition to wall funding, H.R. 6657’s “Secure the Southern Border Fund” would help pay for the 5,000 new Border Patrol officers President Donald Trump has requested, as well as covering the cost of 10,000 new interior Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
If anything, ICE may be shortchanged in the bill, since the agency provides detention services for all detained border-crossers and its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division handles detention support. Given that ICE rounds up visa overstays and others who enter the country by ways other than the border, ICE deserves a share of the funding stream earmarked for Border Patrol vehicles and equipment.
Though President Trump was elected two years ago on his pledge to build a border wall – and a restive public is anxious to see action on that promise — the sensible and straightforward legislation by U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., faces plenty of political barriers. The Republican-led Congress has, so far, offered only $5 billion toward the wall. If the GOP loses the House in the midterm election, H.R. 6657 dies in the mud.
Biggs’s bill dovetails with Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s call for $25 billion to build the wall (H.R. 7059). Even so, the House majority leader (and presumptive House speaker if the GOP holds the chamber) will encounter tough sledding in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome filibustering Democrats.
And so there it is: Caravans of Central American migrants are getting across borders more easily than border-enforcing bills can get down Pennsylvania Avenue. Welcome to America.
Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006.