As President Obama gears up for a major amnesty push, a think tank with singular influence over White House policy is publicizing somewhat questionable information claiming the U.S. border is “safer than ever.”
The Center for American Progress, or CAP, a group highly influential in helping to craft Obama administration policy, released a briefing paper titled “The Facts on Immigration Today.”
The subtitle is “Everything You Need to Know About Our Foreign-Born Population, Current Immigration Policy, and the Voting Power of New Americans.”
A section of the paper claimed, “Our borders are safer than ever.”
As proof of that supposition, CAP related that 81 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border meets one of the top three levels of “operational control” by U.S. enforcement officials.
“The remaining 19 percent covers the most remote, inaccessible, and inhospitable stretches of the border,” continued the paper.
However, the paper failed to note the Obama administration has delayed construction of the remainder of the fence along the 1,951-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
The Homeland Security Department under President George W. Bush built 190 miles of pedestrian border fence and 154.3 miles of vehicle border fence – about one-fifth of the total length needed – mainly in New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Throughout the years there have been calls for a barrier along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. In 2006, President Bush supported a major upgrade in border security with calls for a network of fences, cameras, radar, and communications gear to help speed the response of U.S. Border Patrol officers.
Under Obama, however, the fence project was halted, with Homeland Security spending nearly $90 million on environmental analysis and mitigation measures it claims are aimed at blunting any adverse impact the fence could have on the environment.
Virtually every progressive plan for immigration and border reform, including those supported by CAP, call for so-called environmental factors to determine the length and path of the border fence.
The 645-page Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is considered the seminal progressive legislation on immigration reform.
The bill contains detailed provisions that bar construction in areas in which the fence would impede “wildlife migration corridors, key habitats, and the ecologically functional connectivity between and among key habitats sufficient to ensure that species (whether or not designated as rare, protected, or of concern) remain viable.”
Furthermore, the immigration reform bill is concerned with whether such unspecified species are “able to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
The CAP paper claiming the “safest” U.S. borders, meanwhile, stated that the U.S. Border Patrol has 100 percent “eyes on the border” in high-density urban areas, “meaning that they can view every attempted border crossing in real time.”
However, the camera systems only apply to those areas, meaning skilled smugglers simply move their routes to other areas.
The CAP paper goes on to claim “undocumented immigration levels of Mexicans are at net zero.”
As proof, CAP cited one Pew Hispanic Center study that found 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. from 2005 to 2010, while approximately 1.4 million Mexicans moved from the U.S. to Mexico in that same period of time.
CAP did not state how that same study documented 58 percent of an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico. The study found that 6.1 million Mexicans were living in the U.S. illegally as of 2011.
Even those numbers have been called into question. The number of estimated number of illegals varies widely and is the subject of considerable debate.
A little over half a decade ago, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shocked the public when he estimated –based on illegal immigrant apprehension statistics of the U.S. Border Patrol – that nearly 4 million people had crossed the U.S. border illegally in 2002 alone.
In September 2004, Time magazine put the illegal population somewhere around 11 million.
An independent study of the underground economy by Wall Street firm Bear Stearns, released in January 2005, estimated 18 to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States.
CAP is run by John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who was co-chairman of President Obama’s 2008 White House transition team.
Podesta and CAP have had heavy influence on the crafting of White House policy. CAP routinely releases policy reports that are reportedly used in the formulation of Obama administration policy.
A Time magazine article profiled the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”
The article branded CAP as the “idea factory” of the Obama administration.
Several former Obama administration officials have joined CAP. Donald Berwick, who served as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until December 2011, just joined the liberal think tank when he stepped down.
Former EPA Commissioner Carol Browner is a CAP distinguished senior fellow, as is Van Jones, Obama’s former “green” jobs czar, who resigned in 2009 after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and implied the Bush administration may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks.
Former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, rumored to be a possible Obama pick for White House chief of staff, is a CAP alumnus.