The U.S. Department of Homeland Security no longer uses control of the actual border as a measure of how well the Border Patrol is doing its job, according to written testimony released today by the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO said that by the end of fiscal 2010, the Border Patrol had been able to secure “operational control” of only 44 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border. Then, with 56 percent of the border not under “operational control,” DHS simply stopped using “operational control” as a measure of the Border Patrol’s performance.
Since then, DHS has counted the number of illegal border crossers the Border Patrol apprehends, and used this count as an “interim” measure of whether the Border Patrol is accomplishing its mission.
According to GAO, this “interim” measure limits DHS’s accountability and Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of the department.
“At the end of fiscal year 2010, DHS reported achieving varying levels of operational control of 873 (44 percent) of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles,” Rebecca Gambler, the GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Border.
“In fiscal year 2011, citing a need to establish new goals and measures that reflect a more quantitative methodology and an evolving vision for border control, DHS transitioned to using the number of apprehensions on the southwest border as an interim goal and measure,” Gambler said. “As GAO previously testified, this interim measure, which reports on program activity levels and not program results, limits DHS and congressional oversight and accountability.”
Starting in 2004, Congress provided the Border Patrol with a significant increase in resources, which until 2010 were focused on actually securing the physical border of the United States. ...
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