|WASHINGTON, June 10 - In its current form, the Gang of Eight's immigration bill grants permanent legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants without any guarantee of a secure border.
Those eligible include already-deported immigrants and others here illegally who have been convicted of serious crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse and drunken driving.
Meanwhile, the bill weakens our biometric exit requirements, which are designed to prevent visa overstays, and it hinders information sharing among law enforcement officials.
My amendment — the RESULTS amendment — fixes these problems. First, it requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to gain complete situational awareness and full operational control of the entire U.S.-Mexico border (with "operational control" defined as a 90% apprehension rate of illegal border crossers). It requires the use of a biometric exit system at all air and sea ports of entry with a Customs and Border Protection presence. And it requires nationwide implementation of E-Verify.
Under the RESULTS amendment, illegal immigrants do not become eligible for permanent legal status until each of these four benchmarks — situational awareness, operational control, biometric requirements and nationwide E-Verify — has been achieved. Violent criminals are not eligible for legalization, and law enforcement agencies have access to critical intelligence about public safety and national security threats.
Washington has vowed to secure America's borders for more than a quarter-century, but its repeated promises have not led to real results. Indeed, as of 2011, the federal government had operational control of less than 45 percent of the southern border. A porous border encourages drug traffickers, sex traffickers and other criminals who prey on the weak and the vulnerable. The RESULTS amendment increases penalties on the transnational gangs and human smugglers who have exploited our border. It also upgrades security and infrastructure at U.S.-Mexico land ports of entry, slashing wait times and expediting legitimate travel and commerce.
The only way we will ever gain full operational control of our borders is by demanding results. Under the Gang of Eight's bill, the border-security "trigger" is phony: DHS is required to write a strategy, not to achieve actual results. By contrast, my amendment guarantees the results that Washington has long promised but never delivered.
John Cornyn is a U.S. Senator for Texas. He serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. On the Judiciary Committee, he serves as the top Republican on the Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge. The above op-ed first appeared in USA Today on Monday, June 10.