A Vague Approach to Border Security Should Worry Everyone

That doesn't mean that the country will have to fully achieve the goals in the plan (100 percent surveillance and 90 percent "effectiveness" in catching unauthorized crossers). It just means that the plan will need to be "substantially" up and running.

The vague language could be a worry for border hawks, who want to see increased enforcement. But it could also impact immigrants seeking legal status.

"I could see it being problematic in both instances," said Shiu-Ming Cheer, an immigration attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, a group that advocates for immigrant rights. "For people who are concerned about the trigger, they don't know if the process for people to become legal permanent residents is going to be held up."

Cheer believes that the federal government will need to define what it means by "substantially operational," either before or after the bill is passed. Otherwise, the term is subjective, and open to manipulation.

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