Last week, following President Obama’s speech on immigration reform at American University, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) went on Fox News to share his reactions to Obama’s remarks. One of Kyl’s bones of contention was that the American people want to see a “really strong effort to secure the border” before undertaking comprehensive immigration reform.
However, Kyl immediately followed-up his attack by stating, “I’m not suggesting that this administration isn’t doing a lot on the border — we have a lot of border patrol folks there and there are other efforts under way.” However, according to Kyl, securing the border is like the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. “It’s not enough to say ‘gee, we have a lot of people down there’ — the question is but are you succeeding,” explained Kyl. Kyl believes it boils down to “different strategies that need to be employed.”
Yet, in his speech Obama pointed out that many of the strategies his administration has employed have in fact been successful:
Contrary to some of the reports that you see, crime along the border is down. And statistics collected by Customs and Border Protection reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally. So the bottom line is this: The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years. That doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do. We have to do that work, but it’s important that we acknowledge the facts.
And while Kyl insists that the border needs to be airtight before Congress can undertake immigration reform, Obama pointed on in his speech that, in the absence of immigration reform, the border will never be truly “secure”:
Even as we are committed to doing what’s necessary to secure our borders, even without passage of the new law, there are those who argue that we should not move forward with any other elements of reform until we have fully sealed our borders. But our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work. Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists, but also the hundreds of thousands who attempt to cross each year simply to find work.
Kyl’s quality versus quantity criticism in reference to border security also does not square with his claim that the President essentially admitted to him that Democrats are refusing to secure the border because then Republicans “won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.” It seems hard to believe that the Obama administration would dump $11,449,283,000 into customs and border protection and “send a lot of people down there” as Kyl admitted on Fox all while undertaking a deliberate attempt to not secure the border. What seems more likely is that Republicans use “securing the border” as an unachievable benchmark that riles their base and guarantees that immigration reform never becomes a reality if the GOP has its way.
Watch Kyl vs. Obama:
Back when Kyl sponsored his own immigration reform bill, he agreed that the immigration system itself has to be fixed in order to enforce the law: “The answer is of course if you don’t have a good law to enforce, you can’t work that strategy. The law has got to be changed.”
Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room.