Reid: I Don’t Know what Operational Control of the Border Means

In an interview airing on the Sunday morning talk show, ABC’s “This Week,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confessed his ignorance of U.S. immigration law and was outright dismissive of the importance of border security. (The Hill, Feb. 3, 2013)

When asked specifically about Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) statement that the government must achieve “operational control” of the borders before considering amnesty for illegal aliens, Majority Leader Reid replied , “I don’t know what that means, and I don’t think [Sen. Rubio] does, either,” Reid said. “The fact is, we have some metrics we’re talking about, some numbers, and we can do that. But this legislation is going to pass,” he continued. (See ABC News Transcript, Feb. 3, 2013)

Reid’s statement that he does not understand the meaning of operational control indicates that the Senate Majority Leader is either ignorant of federal statute, unaware of Border Patrol practice, or simply does not care whether the border is secure.  First, Congress defined the term “operational control” in the 2006 Secure Fence Act (a bill which he voted against). (See Senate Roll Call Vote #262).  The Act defined operational control to mean “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.” (See P.L. 109-367)

Second, the Border Patrol for years measured its effectiveness by identifying the number of miles along the border that were under “operational control.”  Within the agency, the Border Patrol used  a similar definition of “operational control, ” characterizing it as the “ability to detect, identify, classify, and then respond to and resolve illegal entries along our U.S. borders.” (See Testimony of Chief Fisher; Feb. 15, 2011)

Most important, however, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has found that neither the northern nor southern border is close to meeting Congress’ or the Administration’s definition of “operational control.” In 2010, the GAO issued a report on border security, which noted that only 69 of roughly 4,000 miles along the northern border are under “operational control,” and that only 873 of about 2,000 miles are under “operational control” along the southern border.   (See GAO-11-97, Dec. 2010)  The result of the government’s failure to secure the borders has been a steady illegal alien population (despite some removals) and drug cartel activity in over 1,200 U.S. cities.

It remains to be seen how Majority Leader Reid’s comments will be received by his colleagues in the Senate.

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  1. avatar

    Harry Reid is a funny guy. I met him, heard him speak, and bought his book, an autographed copy. He is pro-gun, pro-life, and a born-again Christian. He was a semi-pro boxer, was a cop, and was a Las Vegas lawyer.
    How does a guy with profile of a radical Republican become leader of the Democrats. He’s a large contradiction in terms. I mean, how can Democrats trust him to shepherd gun legislation, or abortion legislation, or gay marriage legislation, etc. when these agenda run contrary to the man’s fundamental beliefs?

    • avatar
      Ma Dorothy Vagilidad on

      Who ever supported President Obama we will support them for the good of the country and the people! We love Pres Obama very much being our President , we are so proud of him , perfect leader of the country with integrity and fulfilled his promise. We will continue to support him and all who supported him too. We look forward that these promise to give amnesty for illegal immigrants will be granted this year! We will count on you Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to support our President’s will to pass this bill! We will look forward also that you will become our next President of the US and we will never never stop to make this happen!!!!!!A million thanks!!!!

  2. avatar
    Concerned American on

    How’s this for an idea? Make entering this country illegally a felony. Make the fine $2500 plus one year in Federal prison. Make this the same on overstayed VISAs. If drugs are involved, triple the fine. Then, apply this to all the illegal aliens in this country now. Leave or if you get caught, the fine will apply to them. Maybe, just maybe, this will take the place of a fence that is costly and doesn’t seem to work all that well. It may even cut down on the cost of deporting these illegal aliens. Does anyone think this will work?

    • avatar

      Concerned American has exactly the right idea. There is no element of Deterrence to speak of. Nor is there anything driving Attrition. This is because there is no uniform enforcement, and because there is no meaningful penalty. A free airline trip home to visit family and friends is not a meaningful penalty. I would only add, to the fine and imprisonment, permanent confiscation of property. Serve notice, by way of spectacular example, that every single one of them is subject to the law, meaning that any one of them could be arrested next, at any time, and in any place. Since they are utterly devoid of respect for this nation, its laws and its people, uniform enforcement and meaningful penalty is the only language these covetous thieves understand. And yes I do believe the result would be a major deterrence to further illegal immigration, and mass self-deportation (attrition) of those already in the country illegally.

  3. avatar

    This is the best person that you can find to represent you? Rampant stupidity in action! Then you wonder why this once great nation is in the shape its in!

  4. avatar

    Does Any of This Surprise Anyone?

    A lion’s share of our elected officials’ campaign loot comes from the open border lobbyists….until this comes to end, there is no hope.