One might expect that if the President of the United States had the ability to secure the southern border and stop the flow of illegal immigrants, he would do everything in his power to make it happen. A recent YouTube video of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) reveals otherwise. In the video, Kyl describes a one-on-one encounter he had with President Barack Obama about the Administration’s plans for the southern border. According to Kyl, President Obama said, “If we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.”
If this is true, it seems that the White House strategy is to hold the security of the border hostage until it gets what it wants — amnesty for the 11 million illegal immigrants inside the United States.
The Obama Administration is choosing not to secure the border at the entirely wrong time. Not only has drug cartel violence become increasingly worse — where cartels have launched an all out war on Mexican law enforcement — but there have been spill over effects inside the United States, including the recent death of an Arizona rancher. Smuggling of drugs, cash and people is on the rise — and illegal immigration (while down in numbers) continues to be a problem.
Lately, it seems like the Obama Administration cannot gets its message straight when it comes to the security of the border. You have Secretary Janet Napolitano testifying before a Senate panel that the border is “as secure now as it ever has been” — and that security is a reason to move forward with amnesty. This seems contradictory to the announcement by the White House that President Obama would be deploying 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border. Sending precious military resources down to the region isn’t indicative of a border that is extremely secure. If the border woes were in fact suitable for military attention, sending 1,200 troops to the border is too small of a number to make a real difference — making the move more symbolic (or likely political) than anything — and an effort to gain traction for amnesty. It seems that the Obama Administration will do anything to convince the American public that the border is secure (or not secure enough) for amnesty. Couple this with efforts to demonize the Arizona law and use opposition to make the case (yet again) for amnesty, and the White House seems all-out desperate.
The real story on the U.S./Mexican border is that it isn’t yet secure despite a number of large scale investments. These investments were, however, a good first start. The deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles and detection equipment, among other technologies, as well as efforts to better engage state and local law enforcement at the border would help plug the gaps that drug cartels, smugglers and illegal border-crossers exploit. While there is not a silver bullet solution to border security, there are a number of small changes that could make major gains in terms of easing border woes. Democrats in Congress, however, have released an amnesty-based immigration plan that would scrap a key technology, SBInet, which will deploy a system of cameras, radars and sensors to help secure the border in remote areas. The Administration, for its part, has done little to fight for the SBInet program’s continued deployment.
Using border security as a bargaining chip in the amnesty debate makes absolutely no sense. Even if the border were deemed secure today, the day after amnesty was granted, there would be a flood of people crossing the border — movement that would undoubtedly overwhelm the security measures in place. Besides securing the border, a real solution for dealing with cartels and illegal immigration is to work with Mexico on security matters as well as economic and civil society reforms, maintain robust workplace and immigration enforcement inside the United States, while developing more efficient avenues for workers in the United States to grow the economy and create jobs.
The White House has shown that it will do whatever it takes to shove amnesty through Congress, even if it takes the security of the border with it.