By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 8, 2015: Last week, the Wall Street Journal carried a story that quoted the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee as saying he is preparing a border-security bill aimed at better measuring illegal crossings, with targeted improvements in equipment and technology along the Southwest border.
On the Senate side, the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee also told the paper that he hopes to have a framework for a border-security bill ready by late January.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), the incoming chairman of the Senate committee, was quoted as saying: “Once we pass a strong border security enforcement bill, we’ll turn our attention to the other things, as well” to adjust immigration policy.
The comments come as the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement removal data showed a substantial share of convicted criminals removed from the country, a steady and significant increase from 2008, when that figure was just 38 percent and 2011 when it was 67 percent.
In Fiscal Year 2007 and Fiscal Year 2008, ICE removed 102,024 and 114,415 convicted criminals, respectively, as compared to 216,810 in Fiscal Year 2013 and 177,960 in 2014.
In addition, ICE removed 2,802 individuals in Fiscal Year 2014 that were classified as suspected or confirmed gang members. As a result, while overall removals declined in FY 2014, ICE has sustained the improved quality of its removals by focusing on the most serious public safety and national security threats.
Overall, for Fiscal Year 2014, ICE conducted 315,943 removals; 102,224 from within the United States and 213,719 of individuals attempting to unlawfully enter the United States. The leading countries of origin for removals were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
So there is no denying the borders of the U.S. are secure – actually more secure than it’s ever been under any previous administration.
Yet, Republicans in Congress continue to play pass the ball politics. In 2015, with one year out to the 2016 Presidential election, immigrants are watching closely to see what will be done by the new GOP controlled House of Representatives as it relates to immigration.
They have two option – try to act like they are doing something on the issue by passing silly bills that do nothing and will go nowhere or they can bite the bullet as Mitt Romney suggests, and pass a major comprehensive immigration reform bill that will be bigger than anything President Obama could do on his own.
The GOP can now rise to the challenge issued by the President in his NPR interview of Dec. 29th. Prove you aren’t “nativist” and give comprehensive immigration reform a chance in 2015.
It may serve you well in 2016 or alternately you can watch the old elephant die with never a chance of ever taking the White House again.
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.