Today, Senate Republicans spoke with President Obama on immigration reform, including plans to deploy thousands of National Guard troops and drones to tighten border security. Prior to the meeting, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) appeared on Fox News to announce one of the ideas he planned on pitching to the President and will also likely introduce as an amendment to the $58.8 billion emergency supplemental bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. Cornyn told Fox News Host Bill Hemmer that his amendment will require that unspent stimulus funds be poured into securing the border rather than boosting the economy:
HEMMER: There are unspent stimulus dollars that are still in the pipeline. You would like to take a whopping $2.2 billion of unspent stimulus money and put it towards border patrol and border security. What’s your proposal there?
CORNYN: Well the fact of the matter is we need a credible immigration program starting with credible border security. Last year we had over a half a million people detained coming over our border illegally. No one with a straight face can claim with a straight face that we’ve gotten the job done. I think is as a pre-requisite to doing other things we need to do in immigration reform, we need to start with border security which means more boots on the ground. We need the technology, the airplanes, the drones, the helicopters.
However, Cornyn doesn’t mention that violence and crime on the US-Mexico border has been “on the decline” in recent years. As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said, the border is as “secure now as it has ever been.” ABC News reports that “cities like Tucson; Chula Vista, California; and Lardeo, Texas, have all seen year-over-year drops in violent crime, murder, and rape. El Paso, Texas, continues to have one of the lowest rates of violent crime of all U.S.cities.”
Despite the drop in crime, spending on immigration enforcement, particular border enforcement, has steadily climbed since 2002 and continues to rise under the Obama’s administration from about $9 billion in 2008 to over $11 billion in 2010. Overall, the U.S. will spend over $17 billion in FY 2010 just on enforcing immigration laws:
Comprehensive immigration reform, which would include border security provisions, but also do something about the 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., would meanwhile generate at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative GDP over ten years. By creating a more flexible visa system, immigration reform would also likely allow border patrol to more effectively focus their resources on dangerous threats to public safety and national security instead of pursuing those who simply come to the U.S. to work. While quick to call for costly ramped up enforcement measures, the Republican Party has so far refused to pursue immigration reform in 2010.
The Hill reports that the Obama administration has decided to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and is requesting $500 million in supplementary funds for border security. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is prepared to file a separate amendment to the supplemental bill calling for “6,000 members of the National Guard on the southern land border of the United States during fiscal year 2010.”