Hurd on the Hill: Securing Our Borders

January 26, 2015
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns

I firmly believe that if people in Washington are going to write the laws about securing our border, they should spend some time down here and talk to the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our nation. That’s why I joined my fellow Texas Congressman Mike McCaul this weekend as he led a delegation of members of Congress on tours of our southwest border. We spent time in San Diego, California, Sierra Vista, Arizona and McAllen, Texas and at each stop, my colleagues were able to see what you and I already know to be true – our border is no where near secure, despite what the White House and Democrats in Congress may say.

As I travel our district, I hear it over and over again – “Will, when is Washington going to fix this problem?” That’s why I am a co-sponsor of the Secure Our Border’s First Act, a bill introduced by McCaul, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security.

First, let me explain what this bill isn’t. It is not an immigration reform bill. Our immigration policy is enormously complicated and reforming it will require more than just one piece of legislation. Washington just doesn’t do “comprehensive” well, so look for us to fix our broken immigration system separately with legislation that comes from the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over this issue.

However, the Secure Our Borders First bill is a giant step towards getting our borders under control. A key component to the legislation will make cutting-edge technology available to our border patrol agents to help solve this problem. Where difficult terrain keeps agents from being effective on the ground, we can use technology to put eyes and ears on the border.  The legislation also completes the 700 miles of fencing as required by law.  This complete approach gives our border agents a leg up on those who wish to do our nation harm.

The Secure Our Borders Act also gives these agents the flexibility they desperately need to react to the latest intelligence they receive. While Washington may be able to offer guidance to Border Patrol on how to handle certain situations, the truth is that only those on the ground, and often in immediate danger, have the ability to make the right call.

My time as an undercover CIA agent gives me a unique perspective on border security. It’s not a partisan issue. This is about national security. When our border is not secure, our national sovereignty is at risk. This is also about promoting trade and commerce across international lines. An unsecured border stalls the movement of goods, and this hurts our economy and job growth.

The Secure Our Borders First Act isn’t the final answer to this problem. There will still be more work to do on completely securing our border even once this bill is in place. And I look forward to working with Chairman Bob Goodlatte with the Judiciary Committee to move forward with real immigration reform that protects American workers and strengthens our economy. But this a tough border security bill with real consequences if the administration refuses to act. It’s the right first step.