The president's speech in El Paso this afternoon delivered a whopper in his call for mass amnesty (still referred to by advocates, including Obama, as "comprehensive immigration reform"). In fact, there were several whoppers, examples of stretching of the truth, and hackneyed phraseology.
President Obama baldly asserted that the border is secure and so it's now time to legalize the 11 million illegal aliens, including ag workers and DREAMers. Here's what he claimed about having secured the border:
In recent years, among the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security. These were legitimate concerns; it's true that a lack of manpower and resources at the border, combined with the pull of jobs and ill-considered enforcement once folks were in the country, contributed to a growing number of undocumented people living in the United States. And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition we forged back when I was a United States Senator. In the years since, "borders first" has been a common refrain, even among those who previously supported comprehensive immigration reform.
Well, over the past two years we have answered those concerns. Under Secretary Napolitano's leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents on the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents – more than twice as many as there were in 2004, a build up that began under President Bush and that we have continued.
They wanted a fence. Well, that fence is now basically complete.
And we've gone further. We tripled the number of intelligence analyst working the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We've forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. And for the first time we are screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments – to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs coming north.
So, we have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we've answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They'll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They'll say we need a higher fence to support reform.
Maybe they'll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat.
They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics.
But the truth is, the measures we've put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we've seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, and 64 percent more weapons than before. Even as we've stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago – that means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.
Also, despite a lot of breathless reports that have tagged places like El Paso as dangerous, violent crime in southwest border counties has dropped by a third. El Paso and other cities and towns along the border are consistently rated among the safest in the nation. Of course, we shouldn't accept any violence or crime, and we have more work to do. But this progress is important.
Beyond the border, we're also going after employers who knowingly exploit people and break the law. And we are deporting those who are here illegally. Now, I know that the increase in deportations has been a source of controversy. But I want to emphasize: we are not doing this haphazardly; we are focusing our limited resources on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income. As a result, we increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent.
As Mark Twain said, there's lies, damned lies, and statistics. Now, all this that Obama claimed is bunk, as Sen. Jim DeMint noted. Or as I recently pointed out. Or, as Arizona-based reporter Leo Banks has exposed.
Many of us might be satisfied if the administration delivered meaningful results: substantially fewer illegal entries (nearing zero), more formal deportations and much more self-deportation, a measurable drop to near zero new illegal immigration and a decrease to a few hundred thousand illegal aliens left living here.
But as long as politicians like Obama keep waving the amnesty flag, it will only inspire more illegal immigration. And, of course, the president called for more legal immigration. He would do nothing to reduce legal immigration to manageable levels or to end chain migration, the culprit that puts legal immigration on automatic pilot and is integrally connected with high illegal immigration.
Border security first. Reduced legal immigration next. We can talk about the hard-core, chronic illegal population as a mopping-up exercise a few years down the road. As it is, Obama's putting the cart before the horse.