To address such concerns, the bipartisan Senate bill sets a target: The US will, with the help of $4.5 billion in new border security funding, turn back or apprehend 90 percent of potential border-crossers in high-risk areas within five years after passage.
If that level of control isn’t in place within five years, the bill authorizes an additional $2 billion in funding and requires a group of border-state elected officials and community leaders to certify when the border is secure. None of the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the US will be allowed to obtain permanent residency without a certified, secure southern border, the bill says.
But Republicans aren't convinced that the Department of Homeland Security can accurately confirm that 90 percent figure. Several senators asked witnesses at the hearing: How can DHS credibly estimate how many people are trying to cross the border? Moreover, they added, why, exactly, is the bill staking so much on a seemingly arbitrary number?
Asked why 90 percent was the appropriate figure for a safe, secure America, US Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said, “Basically it's because ... it's an ‘A.’ If you're going to set a goal for border security and national security, anything less than, at a minimum, 90 percent would be untenable in terms of a goal.”
In addition, what vexes those like Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky is not any particular number but that the legislation doesn’t specify much of anything to get to the 90 percent threshold.