To borrow from Dara’s post yesterday, the drug smuggling and alleged violence the president has cited to justify sending troops to the border is way overblown. According to law enforcement in Arizona and Texas, border violence in Mexico hasn’t spilled over into the United States. Indeed, according to the FBI, crime rates in Arizona border towns have “remained essentially flat for the past decade.” In Texas, officials from towns across the border report that “their cities are among the safest in the state” with steadily declining violence. If there is any spillover violence, it’s addressed by the large number of law enforcement officers — federal and local — that are already present on the border.
It’s beyond obvious that this move is politically motivated. President Obama wants Republican support for an immigration bill, and moving troops to the border is a quick and easy concession to restrictionist Republicans. Of course, the past year strongly suggests that this won’t work at all, and Obama can count on minimal Republican support for an immigration bill. What’s more, I doubt this will placate the right-wing of the GOP, who would prefer to close the border and strip citizenship American-born children of illegal immigrants. Like the spending freeze announced earlier in the year, this is a move (or gimmick) that will alienate liberals and leave conservatives thoroughly unimpressed. Which is to say, it’s pretty close to classically Obama.