While the President of the United States was in El Paso on a campaign re-election appearance giving a speech boasting a view of the border with Mexico,and making jokes that the Republicans want serious measures taken on border security, the Texas House of Representatives was passing HB 12 - the Sanctuary Cities Bill.
Who is laughing now, President Obama?
From the press release issued by the Republican Party of Texas:
Today the Texas House passed HB 12, the Sanctuary Cities bill, by a vote of 100-47 on third reading. This bill allows cities and law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws by preventing local policies in conflict with U.S. immigration laws and by establishing uniform, consistent standards for all Texas law enforcement. The sanctuary cities bill has been one of the RPT's priority legislation items this session, and we applaud our Republican legislators for this vote.
Hispanic Republican Caucus member Representative Jose Aliseda (R-Beeville) voted in favor of HB 12 today, and afterwards spoke about the importance of the legislation. "Today the Texas House passed HB 12 which would prohibit local governmental entities from enacting policies that prohibit them from enforcing federal law. The penalty for those that enact such policies is possible loss of state funding. As a legal Mexican immigrant who understands that the American Dream must be protected, I was proud to support and vote for this legislation. The reality is that this bill simply puts Texas teeth on federal law which was signed by President Clinton in 1996. Texas voters in 2010 spoke loud and clear and the Texas House Republicans listened. Despite all the rhetoric, HB 12 is good policy and good for Texas."
Said RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri, "The United States and Texas is a land of immigrants from a variety of backgrounds. This diversity is a strength of our country. However, it is important that immigration be legal so as to accomplish two major objectives. The first is fairness, so that people who play by the rules are not penalized and the second is a matter of national security. The RPT has as one of its major priorities, to pass legislation that helped address the illegal immigration and open border problem. We are grateful to the House leadership and our Republican representatives who passed this landmark piece of legislation as the first of what we hope to be many steps to provide a reasonable solution to this issue. I would like to thank Rep. Burt Solomons for his leadership on HB 12 and for steadily guiding this bill through debate. I also thank Governor Rick Perry for his strong stance on this legislation, after naming it one of his emergency legislative items for the session."
House Bill 12 now moves to the Texas Senate for consideration.
The speech was boilerplate at best. At worst, it was intentionally politicizing an issue of national security. Texans don't think the issue of border security is a particularly funny one. The President has a nifty way of spinning the numbers to promote the illusion that his administration is having all kinds of big success on the border.
Senator Cornyn raises a question on border security monitoring from a recent GAO report:
Hope someone asks POTUS about this: "1,120 miles of SW border are not under "operational control" as defined by CBP Nearly 2/3 of those miles are at the "monitored" level; the rest are "low-level monitored"; CBP admits these two levels are "not acceptable" for border security."
Nope. No one asked. This wasn't are real opportunity to delve into the issue with regular people in El Paso or a press conference for the media to ask the difficult questions they never really bother to ask. This was a friendly, campaign selected audience who did the predictable. Someone began chanting "yes, we can" when the speech got a bit snooze worthy and President Obama enjoyed jokes at the expense of Republicans when he wasn't outright declaring that were it not for the mean Republicans in office, we would have immigration reform by now.
President Obama promised on the campaign trail in 2008 that he would make immigration reform happen from "Day One", as he did other items he figured would garner him some votes from minority populations. He failed to make that promise come true, as he did others, since he was consumed with Obamacare legislation. So, now that the ever growing Hispanic voter population is miffed at him, he has decided to look all serious about it. And, to come to El Paso and make it a faux policy appearance allowed him to bill the American taxpayer for the jaunt. Then it was off to Austin, home of the liberals in Texas, and two fundraisers.
From a transcript of his speech:
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.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: They’re racist!
THE PRESIDENT: 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 want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.
But the truth is the measures we’ve put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we’ve seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, 64 percent more weapons than ever before. (Applause.) And even as we have stepped up patrols, 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.
Got that? Not only are the slaps at the GOP written out for him to say - the moat and the alligators - but audience plants are there to shout out "racist". I say audience plants because that was the proven case in his last election campaign. There is no doubt in my mind that these audience members were many of his union supporters.
And, the numbers he touts? Yes, it is mostly results shown from the Bush years, thank you very much. And, the reason there are fewer people attempting to cross the border? Our economy is still bad enough that new jobs are not materializing to encourage those seeking jobs to take the risks involved. It's fairly simple logic.
The result was a deliberately politicized speech as he claimed to need bi-partisan support and spoke of his desire to keep politics out of the discussion.