President Barack Obama brought his re-election campaign to El Paso on May 10, 2011. This Texas city is directly across the Rio Grande river from Ciudad Juarez, a murder capital in northern Mexico.
The Rio Grande, for much of the year a shallow stream, is a major crossing point for illegal aliens and drug smugglers. El Paso residents can look across the river and see Mexican children playing in fields where bodies of drug cartel victims have been found in mass graves.
A drug cartel crime wave also is underway in El Paso, which ranks second only to southern Arizona in cases of drug and illegal alien smuggling and related murders. Most of these crimes take place on federal lands, such as the Coronado National Forest in Arizona, which the U.S. government has, for all intents and purposes, ceded to the Mexican drug cartels.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that the southern border is only 44 percent controlled by the U.S. Border Patrol — a fact that President Obama chose to ignore in his El Paso speech.
Obama brought his immigration campaign verbiage to the border city to rekindle favor with Hispanics, favor waning due to his failure to push comprehensive immigration reform. The Hispanic vote in 2012 is considered essential to an Obama re-election, and the president is out to bolster his Hispanic base. Thus he must reassure a frustrated Hispanic population that he will grant citizenship to illegal aliens and their family members. Obama restated his commitment to immigration change stressing the moral and economic imperatives that citizenship for illegal aliens represents.
Observers of the speech agreed that the president offered no new blueprint for achieving comprehensive immigration reform but instead relied on the following failed bromides:
- Respect a threshold responsibility to secure U.S. borders and enforce U.S. law.
- Hold accountable those U.S. businesses that exploit undocumented workers, a practice that persists despite “employer sanctions” in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).
- Provide a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, who pass a background check, establish that they haven’t committed crimes, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English, and undergo a detailed citizenship application process before getting in line for a “green card.” Federal funds will be needed to conduct background checks on illegal aliens who may have been in hiding for decades using aliases. Illegal-entry fines and back taxes will need to be paid, English lessons taken, and an English proficiency test passed.
- Reform the immigration system to make legal entry to the United States easier for law-abiding foreign nationals.
Back in 2007, the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform bill contained these same bromides; but even with bipartisan support, that bill failed to pass Congress. U.S. citizens rose up in strenuous opposition to what they saw as amnesty for illegal aliens.
Today U.S. citizens who oppose a path to citizenship for illegal aliens until the border is secured demand that the Obama administration do more than repeat the fallacious claim that “the border has never been safer.” Border state residents know better, and they have the scars to prove it. Yet at El Paso, Obama declared the border secure.
He reported increasing Border Patrol agents to 20,000; assigning National Guard troops to the border; constructing the border fence, installing aerial surveillance, and deporting illegal aliens.
Obama blamed “border-security-first” Republicans for the lack of immigration reform. He declared, “We have gone above and beyond,” while the Republicans continually move the goalposts. With a smile of derision, the president asked, What will they next seek? A moat to secure the border? Maybe with alligators? To this, a member of the audience called out, “They’re racist,” referring to Republicans.
A New York Times online report of the El Paso speech read in part, “Politically, Obama sought to have it both ways.” The reporter wondered how Obama would lead a “constructive and civil” debate on the issue, while at the same time publicly questioning the motives of Republicans and their ability to keep their word.
The report noted that “Obama declined to offer a bill or set a deadline for Congress to produce one.”
Obama’s vision of a changed America depends on comprehensive immigration reform. Standing in his way are the 70 percent of U.S. citizens (Hispanics among them), who hold that illegal aliens should not be given special status.
Recent arrests suggest that not all applicants for U.S. citizenship are willing to renounce foreign sovereigns and potentates. Convictions of naturalized terrorists feed these suspicions.
The president usually speaks with eloquence, but his heart was not in his El Paso speech. This does not bode well for his re-election campaign, unless he was sending a subtle message of reassurance to angry voters who happen to be U.S. citizens.
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