President Obama took credit for improved safety along the south west border and made a call for a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system. Simon wrote about this, noting that the President did the right thing by contextualizing the gains on the border with a broader overhaul of our immigration system.
This is important as not only did he acknowledge both the importance of border security as a component of CIR he also noted that now it should no longer be an impediment to moving forward with it, speaking about the Border Patrol:
So they’re doing outstanding work. And in recent years, among one of the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security. And these were legitimate concerns. What was true was a lack of manpower and a lack of resources at the border, combined with the pull of jobs and ill-considered enforcement once folks were in the country.
All this contributed to a growing number of undocumented people living in the United States. And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition that we had forged back when I was in the United States Senate. So in the years since, “borders first, borders first,” that’s become the common refrain, even among those who were previously supportive of comprehensive immigration reform.
But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of Janet and Alan and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns.
Perhaps most importantly the President listed the accomplishments of his administration along the border:
- The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004.
- Then they wanted a fence. Well, the fence is now basically complete.
- We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border.
- I’ve deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California.
- We have forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries.
- For the first time we’re screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north.
This is showing real results, the President noted that over the last 2 and 1/2 years:
- We’ve seized 31 percent more drugs.
- 75 percent more currency,
- 64 percent more weapons than ever before
- Apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago. That means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.
Some have questioned the veracity of some of these statistics, specifically just how much “operational control” CBP actually has on the border. I will be writing about this later today, but in closing this post, its important to note that the President didn’t hold back in calling out Republicans who continually move the goal post on border enforcement as a way to hold back on immigration reform:
So, here’s the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they wan