On February 15, 2011, a House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing revealed that the Obama Administration was not adhering to the 2006 Secure Fence Act. That law requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to achieve and maintain operational control of the borders and defined “operational control” as “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.” Instead, Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) noted that only 69 of roughly 4,000 miles along the northern border are under “operational control,” and that only 873 of about 2,000 miles are under “operational control” along the southern border.
Additionally, Obama Administration officials further revealed that they were not using the statutory definition of “operational control.” Instead, Michael Fisher, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol (CBP) testified that the agency prefers to define “operational control” as the “ability to detect, identify, classify, and then respond to and resolve illegal entries along our U.S. borders.” Then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said at the time: “[I]t’s important to recognize that ‘operational control’ is a very narrow term of art in Border Patrol lingo… [it]should not be construed as kind of an overall assessment of what’s happening at the border.”
Remarkably, instead of investing the energy needed to secure the border (as required by law), the Obama Administration decided to abandon the use of “operational control” as a metric—both the statutory version and the definition illegally concocted by the Administration. Perhaps most appalling is that DHS – the agency responsible for ensuring the security of the United States – abandoned the old metric for gauging border security without formulating a new metric.
In February 2013, Napolitano promised that DHS would have a new metric by the end of the year. The calendar has turned to 2014 and DHS has yet to release a new standard, Napolitano is gone, and the border is still not secure.
Read more at FAIR’s President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement.