In light of the radar numbers, McCaul has asked Napolitano to provide data to back up her assertion that the border is more secure than ever. The answer could have a huge effect on the comprehensive immigration reform bills Congress will consider in coming weeks and months.
For example, there are reports that the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Eight negotiators have added a border security provision to their proposal to give immediate legalization to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Before that legalization occurs, Homeland Security would have to submit a plan that would, within a decade, result in the apprehension of 90 percent of those who cross the border illegally. The department would also have to have 100 percent of the border under surveillance.
That's not all. The Gang of Eight plan is then expected to call for greater border security measures -- and results -- before those newly legalized immigrants are placed on a path that eventually will lead to citizenship.
Both provisions will be met with a lot of skepticism, at least on the right. Will Republicans really agree to legalize 11 million currently illegal immigrants on the strength of Janet Napolitano's promise to secure the border sometime in the next 10 years -- especially after Napolitano claimed, on the basis of dubious evidence, that the border is already secure?
Some immigration reformers see the radar story as hopeful news, showing that there are new ways to use technology to secure the border. But of course it is the administration's job to enforce border security, and DHS has spent years resisting even assessing the situation.
McCaul and others are expected to introduce legislation that would require Homeland Security to come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the border -- and then carry it out. The problem is that such demands have been made many times in the past, and the border is still not secure. Given the Obama administration's record, is there any reason to believe that things will be any different this time, no matter what promises are made?