It took a budget crisis of unprecedented proportions, but the U.S. Congress is finally starting to ask some tough questions about what it’s getting for the billions of dollars that have been spent on securing the borders against illegal entry.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is “taking it to the streets.” Or at least that’s the motto behind a new pilot program aimed at combatting the negative image that some community groups have about the department.

Obama administration officials, embattled on all sides on immigration, are pushing back to defend their record on border enforcement and deportations of illegal immigrants. In a speech today at a Democratic think tank in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano chastised critics, mostly Republicans, who have said that illegal crossings and drug violence are out of control on the southwest border.

Congressional Republicans are drafting legislation that would require the federal government to develop a plan to add more fencing, sensors, agents and even drones to stop every illegal entry into the United States.

The U.S. government should create an interagency task force to coordinate Southwest border-security operations and resolve conflicts between agencies, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Thursday. Speaking at the U.S.-Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference, Cornyn said he does not believe that the Obama administration has an adequate strategy for stopping illegal activity along the border.

Last month, a U.S. government official was shot and killed while on duty in Mexico. We’ve learned that the gun used to kill him came from the United States.

When D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier heard about a new federal immigration enforcement program last year, she said it could have prevented eight killings in the city in the previous two years.

For the past couple years, Republicans on Capitol Hill and across the country have been spitting out talking points about the need for stronger “border security.” None of them will actually define what it means to “secure the border,” but we just know that in their world, there’s never enough border security.

Today’s La Opinion editorial entitled “Border Security” is an elegant repudiation of the sound bite so popular among Senate Republicans— that we can somehow “secure the border first” before tackling any kind of meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.

Making U.S. borders absolutely secure is an understandable but unachievable aspiration. Yet this goal has been turned into an insurmountable obstacle facing anyone who dares to initiate a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform.