Summary of Secure Fence Act of 2006

Update: On 10/26/06, the President signed this bill into law (P.L. 109-367).

The House passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (H.R. 6061) on 9/14/06 by a vote of 283-138, authorizing the first in a series of border security initiatives House leaders intend to push through before the November elections.

H.R. 6061 calls for the construction of 700 miles of 2-layered reinforced fencing, as well as other barriers and surveillance equipment, along specified regions of the U.S.-Mexico border. It also requires DHS to achieve "operational control," defined as prevention of all unlawful entries, over land and maritime borders; to conduct a study on security along the northern border; and to evaluate the authority and ability of Customs and Border Protection personnel to stop fleeing vehicles that enter the U.S. unlawfully.

The Secure Fence Act is widely perceived as an attempt by some House Republicans to appear tough on immigration in the run-up to the elections, and to deflect attention from their unwillingness to strike a compromise with the Senate on immigration reform. Although the bill passed easily in the House, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain.

Summary of Secure Fence Act of 2006:

Sec. 1: Short Title

Sec. 2: Achieving Operation Control on the Border

Requires DHS Secretary, within 18 months of enactment, to take all actions he determines are appropriate and necessary to achieve and maintain operation control over land and maritime borders, including:

  • systematic surveillance through more effective use of personnel & technology; and
  • physical infrastructure enhancements such as additional checkpoints, roads and barriers;

"Operational control" means the prevention of all unlawful entries into the U.S., including entries by terrorists, unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

Requires DHS Secretary, within one year of enactment and annually thereafter, to submit a report to Congress on progress made toward achieving this goal.

Sec. 3: Construction of Fencing and Security Improvements in Border Area from Pacific Ocean to Gulf of Mexico

Amends section 102(b) of IIRIRA (section on improvement of barriers at the border) by striking the words "near San Diego" (IIRIRA § 102(b) dealt only with construction of fencing and roads in the border area near San Diego), and by specifying that the DHS Secretary must provide for at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors. Such improvements must extend from:

  • 10 miles west of the Tecate, CA POE to 10 miles east of same;
  • 10 miles west of the Calexico, CA POE to 5 miles east of the Douglas, AZ POE;
  • 5 miles west of the Columbus, NM POE to 10 miles east of El Paso, TX;
  • 5 miles northwest of the Del Rio, TX POE to 5 miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, TX POE; and
  • 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, TX POE to the Brownsville, TX POE.

With respect to the Calexico area, outlined above, the DHS Secretary must install an interlocking surveillance camera along such area by May 30, 2007 and must complete fence installation in this sector by May 30, 2008.

With respect to the Laredo area, outlined above, the DHS Secretary must ensure that fence construction from 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, TX POE to 15 miles southeast of the Laredo, TX POE is completed by December 31, 2008. If the topography of a specific area has an elevation grade of 10 % or higher, the Secretary may use other means to secure the area.

Sec. 4: Northern Border Study

This section requires the DHS Secretary to conduct a study on the construction of a state-of-the-art barrier system along the northern international land and maritime border, including a discussion of both the necessity and feasibility of constructing such a system, and must report his findings to Congress within one year of enactment.

Sec. 5: Evaluation and Report Relating to Customs Authority to Stop Certain Fleeing Vehicles

Section 5 requires the DHS Secretary, within 30 days of enactment, to:

  • evaluate the authority of CBP personnel to stop vehicles that enter the U.S. unlawfully or that refuse to stop when ordered to do so, and compare such CBP authority with that of the Coast Guard to stop vessels under 14 USC, section 637, assessing whether such CBP authority should be expanded.
  • review the equipment and technology available to CBP personnel to stop the vehicles described above and assess whether better equipment & technology is available or should be developed.
  • evaluate the training provided to CBP personnel to stop vehicles as described above.

The Secretary must submit a report to Congress within 60 days of enactment that contains the results of the evaluation described above.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06091467.