Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Dream Act" failure kills immigration reform hopes

The so-called "Dream Act" giving legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the United States before age 16 was dealt a death blow in the Senate on Saturday by Republicans who said it would reward illegal activity.

Obama and Democratic supporters immediately vowed to push again for the measure. The president pledged that he would not give up on "the important business of fixing our broken immigration system."

But analysts said Saturday's outcome killed prospects of passing a comprehensive immigration bill in the next Congress, where Republicans will have control of the House of Representatives and a stronger hand in the Senate.

"Immigration reform is effectively dead in the water for Obama," said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University. "It will be impossible to get any progressive bill through the House in the next Congress, and it will be virtually impossible in the Senate ... as it won't make sense politically," he said.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama had promised to push for an immigration overhaul, boosting border security and offering steps to legal status for many of the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows.

After Republicans take control of the House next month, immigration measures are likely to focus on tightening enforcement and limiting immigration, said Steven Camarota of the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies think tank. "There will be more focus on robust enforcement, more hearings designed to highlight problems in the immigration services ... and efforts to try to limit chain migration" which admits relatives of immigrants already in the United States, he said.

The Dream Act would have provided legal residency to young people who came to the United States illegally before age 16 and who graduated from high school, completed two years of college or military service and had no criminal record.

But Obama's failure to push it through the Senate was unlikely to have damaged his support among key Latino voters as he seeks re-election in 2012, analysts said.

Latinos turned out for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008, and their support in last month's midterm congressional elections helped Democrats hold on to important Senate seats in the Southwest.

"Obama and the White House fought hard for the Dream Act and won points for doing so" among Hispanics, said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, which advocates for immigration reform.

"If you are a Republican who voted against this, you will be forever known for standing in the schoolhouse door and saying 'no' to the best and brightest," he added. [Typical Leftist misrepresentation. No mention that those who really DID stand in the schoolhouse door were Democrats. And no mention of the difference between denying people their legal entitlements and denying people something to which they are NOT entitled. And since when were Hispanic illegals and their frequently criminal children the "best and brightest"? Their educational attainments and IQ scores tell us that they are in general anything but bright]


Half of All Illegal Entries Into U.S. in 2010 Came Through One Sector of AZ Border

Approximately “half of all illegal entries” into the United States and "half of all of the marijuana smuggled into the United States" in fiscal 2010 occurred in the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which takes up only a part of the Arizona-Mexico border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin.

More than two-thirds of the Tucson Sector itself is under "effective control," according to CBP, which by definition means that the government can "reasonably ensure" that illegal entries are intercepted there. That leaves, by CBP's accounting, just a small part of the Tucson sector open to a massive influx of illegal aliens and illegal drugs.

And this bulging gap in border security is in a state that the federal government is currently suing for allegedly usurping the federal government's rightful authority to enforce immigration laws.

CBP divides the almost 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border into 9 sectors. They run from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast in this order: San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, Marfa, Del Rio, Laredo, and Rio Grande.

Arizona's portion of the U.S.-Mexico border is 378 miles long, straddling two of the Border Patrol's sectors: Yuma and Tucson. The Yuma Sector (which includes the easternmost 10 miles of the California-Mexico border) takes up the westernmost 116 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border. The other 262 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border fall in the Tucson Sector. The Border Patrol's El Paso sector begins on the New Mexico side of the Arizona-New Mexico border.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told that as of Sept. 30 (the last day of fiscal year 2010), the federal government believed it had achieved what it calls "effective control" of 293 miles of the 378-mile-long Arizona-Mexico border and that the remaining 85 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border that are not under "effective control" are all in the Tucson Sector.

All 126 miles of the Yuma Sector, including the 10 miles in California and the 116 miles in Arizona, are under "effective control," the spokesperson said.

As defined by the Department of Homeland Security, a mile of the border is under “effective control” when the “appropriate mix of personnel, equipment, technology and tactical infrastructure has been deployed to reasonably ensure” that illegal entries are intercepted. “Border miles under effective control” is a metric the DHS uses in its annual performance reports to measure how well the CBP is performing.

Despite the continuing problems in the Tucson Sector, a CBP spokesperson told that the agency has been improving its performance there. In fiscal 2009, the spokesperson said, the government considered only 119 miles of this sector under "effective control." In fiscal 2010, the spokesperson said, it considered 177 miles under "effective control."

"Today, the area that remains our greatest challenge is the Tucson Sector," said Bersin. "Approximately half of all illegal entries occur across the 260 miles of border in this Sector, and traffickers believe they can use the inhospitable terrain to evade authorities."

A CBP spokesperson explained to that what Bersin meant by "illegal entries" in this staement was the actual apprehension of illegal border crossers, which equaled 463,000 nationwide in fiscal 2010.

Two Arizona sheriffs, one from a border county located in the Tucson Sector and another from a county 70 miles north of the border in that sector, rejected the CBP’s claim that the government is able to “reasonably” detect illegal entries along most of the 378-mile long Arizona-Mexico border, except for 85 miles along CBP’s Tucson Sector.

Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, whose jurisdiction includes 80 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in the Tucson Sector, said, “That is an interesting statement, if not particularly believable.” He further said that the Border Patrol is making inaccurate claims about being able to “capture one in every 2.6 illegal crossers” in that sector. (Border Patrol is a division of the CBP.) “By some estimation they catch only one in ten,” said Dever. “I think it would be interesting to see a map that supports that claim.”

In addition, Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, which is about 70 miles north of the border in the Tucson Sector, said he is “not buying” the story that all but 85 miles of the Arizona-Mexico are under “effective control.” Such a claim is “blatantly false,” Babeu said, because by DHS’s own admission all three Arizona counties located in the Tucson Sector “are not under their control.” However, Babeu agreed that Yuma County in the Yuma Sector is under control.


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