John McCain and Lindsey Graham were almost giddy when they emerged from a White House meeting on immigration reform on Tuesday. The Senate duo insist President Obama understands Republican concerns about border security as critical to getting immigration legislation through Congress.
"It's one of the best meetings I've ever had with the president," gushed Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, one of the four Republican senators in the bipartisan Gang of Eight looking to craft an immigration-reform bill. "I think the president's very sincere in wanting a bill, and wanted to know what he could do to help."
Mr. Obama may indeed be sincere in wanting a bill, but his offer of assistance clearly is not. On the day of the White House meeting, the administration freed hundreds of illegal-alien detainees in a partisan, in-your-face maneuver supposedly forced by "deep," government-wide budget cuts wrought by the sequestration battle. "Outrageous" is how House Speaker John A. Boehner rightly characterized an act that simultaneously underscores the administration's utter unseriousness about both budget deficits and border security.
Less than two years ago, Mr. Obama declared the southern border sufficiently secured, and he could proceed with comprehensive immigration reform. "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," he said in a speech in El Paso, Texas, just across the Rio Grande from Juarez, Mexico. "All the stuff they asked for, we've done."
Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott, in Washington this week for the winter meeting of the Republican Attorney Generals Association, says it's "factually incorrect to suggest" the border is secure. In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Abbott cited examples of Mexican drug-cartel violence that included El Paso City Hall being "riddled" with seven rounds of "errant" gunfire from a shootout in neighboring Juarez in late June of 2012. Luckily, no one was hurt, he said, but "the border is a dangerous place" and "an ongoing issue in the state of Texas."
"The very first, linchpin step" in immigration reform, to secure the border, insists Mr. Abbott, would be "strategic fencing," which "has worked to prevent penetration of the border." He would couple that with "comprehensive monitoring of the border" through live, streaming video so authorities could know if it's truly secure or "porous and being penetrated."
The release of prisoners by the Department of Homeland Security demonstrates that, now as then, the Obama administration cannot be trusted with securing the nation's borders. Messrs. McCain and Graham's assurances are not the least bit reassuring.
The Washington Times
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