Where is President Obama's 'Yes, We Can' on the Border?

By Janice Kephart on November 19, 2010

This morning two stories came across my desk simultaneously, both about the southwest border.

In the first, Texas Department of Public Safety went public that they are fighting a war on their border with Mexican cartels. Not just providing some resources and support, but fighting a war.

They fly helicopter missions, deploy tactical strike teams and gather field intelligence, but the battles they fight aren't in the Middle East, they're in America.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is engaged in an undeclared war with Mexican drug cartels, running militaristic operations day and night.

"I never thought that we'd be in this paramilitary type of engagement," Captain Stacy Holland told Fox News of her work with the DPS. "It's a war on the border."

According to Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw, Texas DPS is using a tremendous amount of manpower, intelligence, and resources to take on the fight. Good for them. I note, however, that no story I've seen has discussed Texas DPS coordination with the Border Patrol, or any support at all from the federal government's ICE or DEA, either. Big surprise? Probably not. I think we've all become accustomed at this point to bullet-ridden (as opposed to bullet-proof) assertions from former Arizona Governor and current Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the border is more secure now than it has been in the last 20 years.

Second, and much to my non-surprise, there is the president who has quietly decided to pull back on the National Guard deployment now ongoing in all four southwest states:

A letter sent to various members of the Texas Congressional delegation from Texas' Gov. Rick Perry's office says, "In February, 2011, the Texas, New Mexico, and California National Guard forces that were deployed to the border in September, 2010, under President Obama's Southwest Border Augmentation Plan, will have 30 days to complete a total draw down of forces."

The roughly 550 troops will have the month of February to redeploy back to their units, Texas Congressman Ted Poe told The Examiner. Troops would not be pulled off the Arizona border under the plan, and about 100 of the troops would re-deploy there from other states, officials said.

Poe received the letter today. His office confirmed with Department of Homeland Security officials that the plan came from the administration.

Obama's original Southwest border plan would have ended in July, 2011. According to officials familiar with the new initiative the "Administration budgeted only $135 million for the entire deployment."

Sometimes I wonder what the president is proverbially smoking, but I suppose that would be rude. I'm sure there is a very legitimate reason for it. Wait, let me guess: the border is secure! Right, and the president knows this because he's accepted those invitations from border state governors to go down and actually see what those in Arizona and Texas, New Mexico and California, are up against. Correction. The president has not accepted those invitations.

Well, then, from the perspective of the Oval Office and the Secretary of Homeland Security, safely entrenched in Washington, D.C., the border is secure. And Texas, you had better watch out for defending your citizens from the drug cartels with your Department of Public Safety. You may just find an injunction or lawsuit across your governor's desk claiming that Texas is engaging in federal immigration law enforcement that is only the purview of the federal government.

Is anyone else getting dizzy from the nonsensical circular arguments? The federal government is alone responsible for immigration enforcement and the borders, we are told. But the federal government will not provide the resources to do the job. Then it is the states' responsibility to fend for themselves. But no, wait, the federal government says the border is secure so they need not do anything. Goodness. I am dizzy.

And just a note, Mr. President: perhaps if you can spend a gazillion dollars traveling to conduct international diplomacy, a trip on Air Force One to the southwest border, or a diplomatic meeting with whatever Mexican cartel of your choosing, would be worthwhile. I'm sure it would prove fruitful, and reduce the drugs and violence on the border. Remember: Yes We Can.