A few days ago, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration plans to push amnesty legislation early in 2010. That Obama and Napolitano want amnesty for 15 to 20 million illegal aliens is not news. What was noteworthy about Napolitano’s “announcement” was the reason she gave for moving ahead on the amnesty plan in 2010.
The head of our federal agency for homeland security has announced that, unlike 2006 and 2007, when Congress said no to amnesty, today we can do it because our borders are now secure. That’s more than hype; it’s a lie, and a dangerous one.
That would be big news if true. It would mean that Border Patrol agents are no longer chasing hundreds of border jumpers into the brush each night and catching perhaps 30 percent of those they observe. But, hey, what’s a million new illegal aliens each year among friends?
Napolitano and Border Patrol management have been trumpeting the fact that apprehensions on the border are down for the third straight year – down from almost 1.2 million in 2005 to “only” about 800,000 last year. That decrease would be significant if that number meant what most people think it means. What it does not mean is that fewer people crossed the border successfully. It means simply that they caught fewer people, not that fewer people made it through their net. The decrease in apprehension numbers might mean that fewer people are attempting to cross the border, but it also might mean the Border Patrol is focusing more on interdicting drug smugglers instead of human trafficking.
But there is a really ugly part to the numbers game the DHS officials are playing. Not only do they mislead the public on the number of border intruders, they even lie about something as elementary as the border fence. Napolitano claims that over 670 miles of “new fencing” has been constructed since 2006, but that number is false and deliberately misleading.
When most people hear the words “border fencing,” they think of a physical structure that stops people from crossing the border. But half of those 670 miles of “new fencing” are “vehicle barriers,” not actual fencing that stops people. Only 340 miles of “tactical infrastructure” is actual fencing in the conventional sense.
The 340 miles of actual fencing is a success, and we need more of it. Border Patrol agents who walk the line say the new 14-foot steel-pillar and wire-mesh fencing is far superior to the old “slab” fencing. Fencing does not halt all crossings, but it has reduced it. The fencing gives the Border Patrol a better chance of success with its “defense in depth” strategy.
The truth is, fencing works – for those 340 miles that have any real fences. That’s why the Mexican government and open-borders lobbyists have been so vocal in denouncing it.
The new fencing is effective even though none of it meets the congressional mandate of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, a mandate for 700 miles of double-layer fencing on the model of the successful double fence in San Diego.
Napolitano also cites the higher manpower levels of the Border Patrol as a reason for our improved border security. To quiet his critics, Bush doubled the agency’s manpower from 9,300 to 18,500. So, if more manpower is fundamental to border control, why has the Obama administration put a halt to this expansion? When Napolitano wanted to add agents to the Canadian border in September, she transferred hundreds of agents from the southwest border because of continuing shortages.
Thus, eight years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 1,600 miles of the 1,950-mile U.S.-Mexico border still has no fencing that stops or curtails individuals from entering our country, and Border Patrol manpower is still inadequate. Obama thinks that fencing 5 percent of our land border is sufficient to declare victory and move on to an amnesty program. Some people will call this plan “audacious,” but for most Americans, it is merely absurd and insulting.
By the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, every candidate for president, Republican and Democrat, was agreeing that “border security comes first” before there can be any realistic debate about immigration reform. John McCain declared, “I got the message,” and even Barack Obama joined the border-security bandwagon.
A year later, Americans have not forgotten that consensus commitment to border security. Obama understands that. That’s why he must order Napolitano to lie about border security. Only by “faking it” (wink-wink) can they get past that broken promise.
The question is, will Republicans in Congress let them get away with it? If Republican leaders were serious about border security, they would be demanding that Napolitano and her “border czar” be fired.
Memo to Sen. McCain: If you “got the message,” it’s time you did something about it.