During the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans across the country campaigned hard on opposing executive amnesty by President Obama, and securing the country’s borders.  The president famously intoned that “every single one” of his policies was on the ballot; the voters took heed and rewarded Republicans with historic majorities. The GOP now has a chance to make good on its pledges. 

Unfortunately, the current Republican “border security” bill is not the vehicle for them to show that they’re serious. With the misleading title “Secure Our Borders First,” H.R. 399, introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) doesn’t go nearly far enough to fix the porous southern border, nor reverse the Obama de facto amnesty regime. 

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McCaul introduced the bill on the Friday preceding the Martin Luther King holiday, and marked it up the following Wednesday, in the shadow of the State of the Union address.  The House GOP leadership appeared to be in quite a hurry; its plans for fast-tracking the bill quickly went awry, however, and the legislation was pulled, at least temporarily. 

The provisions of the current legislation aren’t terrible; it’s just that there’s so much missing. Just ask the folks tasked with securing our border and enforcing immigration laws. 

Kenneth Palinkas is president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, which represents 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) employees. He doesn’t mince words

“H.R. 399 – Chairman McCaul’s legislation – does nothing to preclude anyone in the world from turning themselves in at the US border and obtaining automatic entry and federal benefits,” said Palinkas. “Almost anyone at all can call themselves an asylum-seeker and get in; it’s a global joke. It’s not border security if anyone can recite the magic words and get waved right on in.”  

Yes, the McCaul legislation is sorely lacking in several areas. Fortunately, there’s an opportunity – an eminently achievable one – to make this bill better; a real border-security bill.   

Last summer, in the wake of the humanitarian crisis on the border, the House of Representatives (which had fewer Republicans than the current majority) passed the Carter-Aderholt bill. It closed loopholes that presumed any unaccompanied child (UAC) from Central American country besides Mexico was seeking asylum/refugee status under the “Wilberforce Act.” It also took asylum claims away from USCIS and placed them in immigration courts, and streamlined the process for deporting illegal aliens. Like so many bills that passed the GOP House the past several years, it languished, untouched, in Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Harry Reid: Biden should give GOP three weeks to see if they will work with him MORE’s (D-Nev.) Senate. 

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) also introduced legislation last Congress that would have tightened and clarified asylum procedures. Some of his key language should be used to amend H.R. 399. Similarly, if the House GOP is serious about “fixing our broken immigration system,” any final border bill should prohibit the issuance of work permits to anyone who crossed the border illegally and is currently in deportation proceedings. 

These are all common-sense solutions. Just a few more provisions would make this a real border-security bill. A mandatory, biometric exit system would address overstays, and the 700 miles of double fencing in Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-Ala.) amendment should be fully funded. 

That’s our focus at Tea Party Patriots. We’ve sent action alerts to the grassroots, educating them on this legislation. We’ve developed a toolkit on our dedicated page to equip local activists. In the coming weeks, members of Congress will hear from grassroots conservatives – in a big way. Activists were listening when GOP politicians ran hard against the lawless Obama amnesty; they heard candidates who pledged to reverse the open-borders catastrophe. 

Now is the time for the politicians to listen, to the people whose votes they coveted and courted. They campaigned on stopping amnesty. We heard them. Now, we’re watching. 

Martin is the president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.