September 12th, 2006 - -
House GOP leaders, led by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), convened a Republican Policy Committee hearing today to receive testimony from committee and subcommittee chairmen, including House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers, who’ve held hearings over the last two months. Based on the hearing, GOP leaders will unveil a series of border security initiatives and work to send them to the President's desk for his signature this year. Chairman Rogers offered the following statement at the hearing.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader, Mr. Whip, Chairman Putnam and distinguished Members of the panel, I am honored to testify before you today to discuss my Subcommittee’s findings on border security and immigration enforcement.
On July 27th, Secretary Chertoff testified before my Subcommittee on the Department of Homeland Security’s progress in securing our borders. This was the third hearing we have held on border security since the announcement of the Secure Border Initiative in November of 2005. And over these last ten months, a great many things have changed. Central among those changes is the major influx of appropriations for the Department’s border security and immigration enforcement programs—totaling some $21.2 billion in this fiscal year alone to fund thousands of new Border Patrol agents, detention beds, and border security tools. In addition, we now have 6,000 National Guard troops assisting CBP along the Southwest Border and are diligently working to build upon these resources through robust homeland security appropriations for fiscal year 2007.
But what also has arisen during these last ten months are questions—questions about how the Department of Homeland Security can turn the tide on the persistent problem of illegal immigration, and actually apply these new resources in a way that—once and for all—gives us the control of our borders that has become an unquestioned necessity in a post-9/11 world.
What we have found, Mr. Chairman, is that DHS is starting to show some significant signs of progress and resources the Congress is providing are making a real difference. As a direct result of our fiscal year 2006 appropriations:
- 99% of aliens apprehended along the Southwest and Northern Borders are now being detained for removal – this is compared to a detention rate of only 34% just one year ago. And by the end of this month, DHS expects to completely end the so-called practice of catch and release.
- In July of this year, CBP apprehended almost 66,000 illegal aliens along the Southwest Border—a staggering number, but one that is almost 31,000 less than during July of last year. This shows that we are significantly deterring illegal border crossings.
- In April and May of this year, we saw two of the most significant worksite enforcement operations in history result in thousands of apprehensions and multiple employer prosecutions.
- And, by the end of this month, DHS will roll out a massive, multi-billion dollar border security technology and tactical infrastructure program called SBInet—a program that is committed to obtaining control of our borders within the next five years.
While these examples remind us there is still considerable work to be done, they also illustrate why we believe DHS is on the right track. For the first time, the government’s border security and immigration enforcement programs are being integrated into one, comprehensive system that is eliminating bottlenecks and producing results.
Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize that with all the resources provided by Congress comes accountability. We are requiring bi-monthly status reports on DHS’ performance and the expenditure of funds on border security. We are absolutely committed to holding the Department accountable and providing the American people with the results they are demanding.
Providing for the security and sovereignty of our borders is more than a homeland security priority; it is one of the fundamental principles of government. I have repeatedly told DHS that failure is not an option; I am proud to report to you, Mr. Chairman, that DHS is getting the message and pursuing its mission with vigor.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and welcome any questions you may have.