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house Bill H.R. 1417

Bolstering Southwestern Border Security in 5 Years

Argument in favor

Provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with clear outlines and goals for how to patrol borders by targeting specific areas.

Argument opposed

Would weaken existing border patrolling protocols, create militarized border communities, and put up a lot of bureaucratic hoops for the DHS.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
    IntroducedApril 9th, 2013

What is House Bill H.R. 1417?

This bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a comprehensive national strategy for gaining and maintaining "situational awareness" and "operational control" of high traffic southwest border areas. 

H.R. 1417 would require reporting from the DHS on the status of its enforcement efforts — while imposing a metric that would measure security and establish concrete benchmarks for the Border Patrol to meet. In four parts, this bill would: 

  • Create a National Plan: This bill hopes that DHS can create a strategy that would result in securing the entire Southwest border within five years. Leading up to that, the strategy should allow DHS to have a handle on high traffic areas within two years and nine months. The plan would also set a standard of 90% effectiveness when apprehending people crossing the border illegally.

  • Situational Awareness: Advanced technology would be deployed to achieve visibility of the entire border. This technology would include existing government -owned technology that has proven effective in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Metrics and Results: The DHS's border security progress would be measured at and between U.S. ports of entry. The standard of these metrics would be outlines in the overall strategy for securing the border.

  • Verification at Every Stage: After the national plan is presented, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be directed to verify the viability of the plan's implementation, metrics, and certification of operational control. For an extra layer of scrutiny and expertise, the metrics would be checked by a National Laboratory and a DHS Center of Excellence. DHS would check in with these metric checkers every three months.


The bill would impact DHS border security strategies, people trying to cross the border illegally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), taxpayers, and border states.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1417

$5.00 Million
The CBO estimates the bill would cost $5 million over the 2014-2018 period.

More Information

In Depth:

In light of the recent surge in unaccompanied minors and families attempting to cross the border illegally, it's worth noting that there is a section of the bill requiring DHS personnel to take civil and human rights protection training. Social and cultural sensitivity training when interacting with border communities would also be included in required training. 

While this bill aims to increase security measures on the southwestern border, H.R. 1417 does not call for additional border fencing or hiring more border patrol officers. Sponsoring Rep. and Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Michael McCaul (R-TX) noted of his motivation for creating H.R. 1417:

“Not knowing who is coming across our borders threatens our economic and national security ... For too long, we have approached border security backwards – by throwing resources at the problem, to plug the holes on our borders without a comprehensive plan to tactically distribute those resources. Until Congress mandates the creation of a national strategy, the Administration will continue to say the border is secure while America's back door remains wide open.”

Current law requires DHS to have full operational control of both land and maritime borders. If passed, critics argue, H.R.1417 would only require DHS to submit a plan for securing only "high traffic" areas and the Southwest border. 



Border Security Results Act of 2013

Official Title

To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a comprehensive strategy to gain and maintain operational control of the international borders of the United States, and for other purposes.