Much has been made of the border security “triggers” in the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. It’s been emphasized that the path to legalization for eligible illegal immigrants would not begin until after border enforcement provisions are met. As I wrote last week, it’s unclear that the “triggers” as they’re written in the legislation would actually function this way. At a hearing this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave conservatives even more reason to be skeptical of enforcement provisions.
The legislation includes a secion on a “Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” which is intended to direct the Department of Homeland Security to direct a strategy on the border fence with Mexico. But the immigration bill gives an extraordinary amount of discretion to the Homeland Security Secretary in its implementation. In a hearing this week, Secretary Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the legislation doesn’t actually obligate any more border fencing.