President Obama delivered his immigration speech this afternoon in El Paso, Texas. From the sounds of things, he is more interested in using "comprehensive immigration reform" as a political weapon than in getting a bill passed. He rattles off the stats he says show he's serious about border security:
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 analysts 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.
The adult conversationalist then included this bit of "outreach" to the Republicans:
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.
In truth, to legalize most illegals in the country Obama needs to get a Republican House to do what George W. Bush was never able to get a Republican House to do. And he needs to revive bipartisan support for such a move in a Senate that was unable to pass the more limited DREAM Act during the lame-duck session, when the Senate had a larger Democratic majority.
What Obama can do, and seemingly intends to do, is use the immigration issue a political tool for painting Republicans as anti-Hispanic in advance of an election. Think of it as a get-out-the-vote effort.
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