Homeland Security Hopeful Michael McCaul Draws Criticism for Immigration Plan

He’s calling for a “payment plan” with Mexico for building a wall across the border.

By Alain Stephens & Rhonda FanningDecember 6, 2016 11:11 am|

U.S Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) met with President-elect Donald Trump last week in a bid for head of Homeland Security. But his potential appointment has met much controversy from hard-line illegal immigration opponents.

In an op-ed posted on Fox News a day after meeting with Trump, McCaul wrote the people are going to get a wall. Period.

“But we are talking about more than just a wall. We are talking about a historic, multi-layered defense system so that drug cartels and terrorists cannot simply slip through the cracks. This means more border patrol agents, new authorities, aerial surveillance, sensors, and other technology to make sure we seal our territory from illegals for good.

…Our neighbors have failed to contain the crisis within their own countries, and they must have skin in the game to fix it once and for all. That is why I’m proposing we put Mexico on a ‘payment plan’ and fulfill President-Elect Trump’s demand that our allies help resolve this mess.”

Todd Gillman, Washington Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News, says part of the contention surrounding McCaul’s bid is his proposal for a nuanced, multi-layered approach to border security.

“If Trump does pick him, it’s almost as if he’ll be the Trump whisperer,” Gillman says.

But Trump is adamant that he’ll follow through on the idea of a physical wall, Gillman says, despite earlier statements that some of it could be fencing.

Trump has also consistently suggested that Mexico would be stuck with the bill.

“There are leverage points and Trump’s main leverage point that he would use is through remittances,” Gillman says. “So many Mexican Americans and Mexicans who are in the United States send these payments back to family back home in Mexico and it’s a major part of the Mexican economy. That’s one way to do it.”

But Gillman says it seems implausible to get $10 billion out of Mexico. McCaul, along with his payment plan idea, suggests the U.S. put pressure on Mexico through other means – like Trump’s threat to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That would give the U.S. leverage, Gillman says.

“The Mexican economy is deeply entwined with the U.S economy and the Texas economy, in particular,” Gillman says. “If there were tweaks to NAFTA, if there was a wholesale withdrawal from NAFTA, that would put an enormous amount of pressure on Mexico that could potentially coerce them to do certain things.”

Gillman says this pressure would not necessarily get Mexico to pay for the wall, but it could possibly get Mexico to tighten its own southern border, which would cut the flow of refugees and immigrants from Central America. That would take pressure off the U.S. border.

But these plans are getting enormous pushback from Republicans with a hard stance on immigration and border issues.

“They see McCaul as not sufficiently tough on immigration and even on border security,” Gillman says. “They have been engaged in a pretty tough, vocal public campaign to undermine his potential candidacy as Homeland Security secretary.”

Gillman says McCaul is not Trump’s top pick at the moment. Instead, it’s retired marine General John F. Kelly.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with McCaul in Trump’s eyes,” Gillman says. “This, of course, would open McCaul up, free him up to run for the Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.