When President Obama flew to El Paso this week, he spoke in front of a friendly crowd of supporters who, nevertheless, were not pleased with everything he had to say in his first major speech on immigration in a long, long time. Obama was on target when he focused on the complexity of immigration policy, the passions that discussion about immigration always arouses, and border security successes since he took office. President Obama is right on target to emphasize our country as a national of immigrants: it has always been one of our unique strengths.
But what the President forgot to say is that while more Border Patrol agents, some 22,000, and the completion of 650 miles of a border fence do provide increased border security, illegal drugs from Mexico are still coming it at $25 billion a year according to the Department of Homeland Security. And while the number of immigrants has declined by about one-third, at least if you are willing to accept the Border Patrol’s shaky statistics, hundreds of immigrants are still needlessly dying each year. There are two border areas that account for more than 70% of these deaths, the desert south of Tucson and South Texas.
And President Obama also forgot to mention that Boeing, the general contractor for the virtual fence, wasted $1 billion dollars of taxpayer money on a system of ten sensor towers and fifteen communication towers. This Titanic of a virtual wall never worked properly, according to reports by the Government Accountability Office, from the Boeing prototype tower in 2006 to the firing of Boeing by Secretary Napolitano in January of 2011.
And just what happened to President Obama’s task force, initiated in the first several months of Obama’s administration? This group of experts was tasked with looking into abuses in our detention system housing illegal immigrants, a system that is privately owned and run and, at the same time, lacks proper federal supervision and accountability.
And finally, President Obama glossed over the newest attempt to secure the Mexican border since the failed project ISIS in 1998. This one is called the “Southwest Border Technology Plan”. It replaces ISIS, the American Shield Initiative, the Secure Border Initiative, the Secure Border Initiative-net, the Secure Border Initiative-net Systems Integrator, and various Boeing derivatives more numerous than the lobbyists lined up at a beltway Golden Corral buffet. This newest attempt is, in fact, not really a plan, it’s an approach.
President Obama should be given credit for what he has accomplished. At the same time, after thirteen years and billions of taxpayer dollars, we deserve an accounting of all these security boondoggles along the border. And surely we deserve better from the Obama administration.