Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Obama has nothing to offer anybody on immigration

He's just blowing smoke

"My presidency is not over. I've got another five years coming up. We're going to get this done."

When President Obama said this recently on the Spanish-language Univision channel, he wasn't just displaying confidence in his future. He was also offering an excuse for his inaction so far on immigration reform.

Before an audience of Hispanic voters, Obama was promising once again that he would be the president to pull this sword from the stone. Just give him another term -- really, he swears.

To believe Obama's promise, one would have to ignore both his tenure in office so far and his prospects in a second term. Obama did almost nothing on the issue of immigration when he could. And if re-elected, he will face a Congress that will let him do even less.

Yesterday, Obama put the blame on Republicans -- easy enough to do, given that most of them oppose reforms as "amnesty." "We're going to have to see how many Republican votes we need to get it done," Obama said. "Ultimately, I cannot vote [on behalf of] Republicans."

It's as if he's forgotten that until recently, he had a Congress that would have passed a serious immigration reform measure. In June 2010, when Hispanic political leaders noticed he wasn't moving on the issue, he brought them to the White House to convince them to shut up, wait, and instead help him use the issue to win the midterm elections.

As the Washington Post recounted, they were told "they had to stop their public complaining about how slowly he was moving and instead direct their fire at Republicans." That phrase encapsulates Obama's entire interest in the immigration issue. The election strategy failed -- Hispanic voters did not "punish their enemies" or "reward their friends" as he'd hoped.

And given how insurmountable the 2012 and 2014 Senate maps look for Democrats, that was probably the last dying gasp for immigration reform. Through most of 2009, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and 60 Senate seats. At that time, Obama would not have needed support from a single Republican to pass immigration reform.

Even after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and his replacement by a Republican in February 2010, there was still hope. We know because after the 2010 election, in the extreme circumstances of a lame-duck Congress, there was a vote on the Dream Act. That bill, which would have legalized some who immigrated illegally as children with their parents, was opposed by some pro-reform Republicans simply because it was viewed as a bad-faith political stunt by a Democratic Party just thrown out of power.

Yet it still received three Republican votes in the Senate, and fell short of 60 only because of Democratic crossovers. With that in mind, just imagine if the Obama White House had placed any weight behind a serious immigration proposal -- one that actually struck a balance between regularizing immigrants and increasing border security.

Had this occurred at any time in the preceding 24 months, Obama probably could have reformed the immigration system. Of course, we can never know for sure, because he never tried.

People also forget that the last time a serious attempt was made to reform immigration, under President George W. Bush, Obama was there in the U.S. Senate.

He voted for and proposed amendments that at the time were called "poison pills" and, as the AP put it, were "potentially fatal blows to the fragile coalition backing the bill."

Taken in their best light, these actions were attempts by Obama to get a better bill later. But when? To quote him from 2008, "by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America."

Obama had his chance on immigration reform, and he won't get another, whether he gets a second term or not. If it's an important issue to you, Obama is not a friend who deserves to be rewarded.


Ariz. Governor Blasts Feds Over Immigration Woes

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer blasted the federal government for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border while invoking the names of a slain rancher and Border Patrol agent on Tuesday at a major border-security expo being held in downtown Phoenix.

Speaking to a room of law enforcement officers and those in the border technology industry, Brewer said the immigration issue isn't about hate or skin color, as her critics say — it's about securing the border and keeping Americans safe.

"Of course, there are those in Washington who will tell you — from 3,000 miles away, by the way — that our border is more secure than ever," Brewer said. "No amount of distortion can hide the absolute truth. The federal government, Republicans and Democrats alike, have failed every single American, all of us."

She said Washington's "abdication of responsibility is the overarching outrage of American illegal immigration crisis."

"America's failure to understand this problem at a national level and to deal with it has haunted borders like mine for decades," she said.

Brewer pointed to the killings of rancher Rob Krentz and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Authorities believe an illegal immigrant killed Krentz while he was checking water lines on his property near the Arizona-Mexico border in March 2010.

Terry was killed in a shootout with border bandits in December 2010. A gun used in his shooting was connected to the botched federal operation known as Fast and Furious, in which agents lost track of nearly 1,400 of the more than 2,000 guns purchased by suspected straw buyers.

While Brewer was at the expo, she visited a number of booths where border-security companies displayed their wares in hopes that federal agents would like what they saw and help them win lucrative contracts.

On display were giant trucks equipped for border surveillance that are painted with eagles, all-terrain vehicles with spotlights, unmanned aerial drones, night-vision goggles and giant outdoor camouflaged monitoring centers.

In one booth that Brewer stopped at, by European Aerospace Defense Systems, the governor looked at how the company uses radar and cameras to monitor land.

The company will be one of many vying for an upcoming government contract for fixed towers at immigration hot spots along the border, starting in Arizona. The contract is part of the government's latest strategy to secure the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said the government will use existing, proven technology tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each region of the nearly 2,000-mile U.S-Mexico border.

She said that would provide faster technology deployment, better coverage and more bang for the buck. She also said the government learned its lesson from a failed high-tech border fence project ordered by Congress in 2006.

The nearly $1 billion program, initiated in 2005 and known as SBInet, was supposed to put a network of cameras, ground sensors and radars along the entire border.

Instead, taxpayers ended up with about 53 miles of operational "virtual fence" in Arizona for a cost of at least $15 million a mile, according to testimony in previous congressional hearings.


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