Over the weekend, former Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth challenged the Obama Administration’s commitment to immigration enforcement—just weeks before the Administration is set to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico Border. On Monday, the Obama Administration announced that the National Guard will begin deployment on August 1, with more than 500 soldiers going to Arizona and the rest to New Mexico, California and Texas. The President has also requested that Congress appropriate $600 million in supplemental funds for “enhanced border protection and law-enforcement activities.”
Hayworth, who is challenging Sen. John McCain (R) in the Arizona GOP primary, is a notorious immigration hardliner who has been criticized by the Mayor of Phoenix as “being full of racism.” It’s quite a challenge on the part of Hayworth to be even more hawkish on border issues than Sen. McCain—who recently released a 10 point border security plan with fellow Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R) and has recorded a television spot solely dedicated to “completing the danged fence”—but Hayworth has managed to do so. Campaign politics aside, challenging the Obama Administration on immigration enforcement—an issue that immigration advocates have criticized the President as being too heavy-handed on, in fact—just doesn’t make sense.
It should come as no surprise that any number of people who advocate open borders and advocate no enforcement of the law, including this current administration, are trying to throw up these roadblocks.
Also on Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, published an op-ed in The Arizona Republic highlighting the Administration’s progress on enforcement and border security:
Over the past year and a half, the Obama administration has pursued a new border-security strategy with an unprecedented sense of urgency, making historic investments in personnel, technology and infrastructure while combating the transnational criminal organizations that smuggle weapons, cash and people across the United States border.
Make no mistake: Despite what those looking to score political points may tell you, the numbers show we are moving in the right direction.
Last year, illegal crossings along the Southwest border were down 23 percent from the year before, to a fraction of their all-time high. Seizures of contraband rose significantly across the board in 2009. DHS seized 14 percent more illegal bulk cash, 29 percent more illegal weapons and 15 percent more illegal drugs than the year before. And, by all measurable standards, crime levels in U.S. border towns have remained flat for most of the last decade.
Meanwhile, in response to a firm date for National Guard deployment, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer criticized the President for not sending more troops or allocating “more resources” to the border. “While the announcement of more resources is welcomed, it does not appear to be enough,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “We need the implementation of a federal plan to achieve victory over these brutal cartels and the porous nature of our open border.” Similarly, Sens. McCain and Kyl commented that while these additional border resources are “a step in the right direction,” a lot more still needs to be done—which no one would argue with. It’s called comprehensive immigration reform.
When it comes to immigration enforcement, it seems like the President just can’t win—either he’s doing too much to enforce “the laws on the books” or he’s not doing enough. The fact that deportations are up under President Obama doesn’t seem to matter to those who would rather score cheap political points rather than acknowledge the work on the border or any other enforcement benchmarks that DHS has met. Of course, for politicians like J.D. Hayworth, it may never be enough. This is, after all, the same man who actually advocated for a ban on legal immigration from Mexico. Not that Hayworth is concerned with things like credibility, but he might do himself a favor by acknowledging the reality that President Obama is spending enormous amounts of resources to enforce immigration law and secure the border.
Photo by Media Matters.