Senator John Cornyn Gets It Way Wrong On Border Security

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) recently wrote an editorial on immigration reform which perpetuates the troubling notion that our southwest border is out of control and that securing it must occur before any legislative reform of our immigration system can occur.

Linking border security to immigration reform in such a manner has allowed political members on both sides of the aisle to do nothing on other facets of immigration reform.

While border security is an important part of reform by no means is it separate from or a substitute for a long term, wholesale reform of a system that even Senator Cornyn acknowledges is broken and needs to be reformed:

"What was missing during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night? I believe one of his biggest omissions was a credible commitment to border security and immigration reform."

He later notes:

“Immigration reform remains a priority for Texas and the nation. Border violence is unacceptably high. Rivalries among drug cartels have claimed more than 30,000 lives in Mexico during recent years. Many areas across our border are not safe for our citizens nor for our friends in Mexico.”

There is nothing factually incorrect about the above statements; President Obama did not talk in depth about immigration reform, though it is also true that reform is a priority for the nation and the administration.
Additionally there is a lot of drug cartel violence in Mexico, yet he fails to note that on the American side violence along the border has never been lower.

It is intellectually dishonest to correlate violence on the Mexican side of the border as a failure on the part of this administration to work on making the border safer. 

By raising the specter of violence along the border this editorial is working within a narrative long established by conservative radio hosts and television personalities: mainly that the border is out of control and that Democrats are weak on enforcement and security issues.

By heightening the national collective fear of the border, this editorial is able to achieve its true goal which is to politicize the immigration debate in a way which allows the GOP to attack the President and Democrats as being weak on border security.

It should come as no surprise that Senator Cornyn also happens to be the chair of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

This editorial is particularly egregious given that in July of 2010, Senator Cornyn voted against a $700 million package of border security funds that was passed out of the Democratically Controlled House. The vote count can be seen here. He did vote for the $600 million package passed later that year, but that is a full $100 million less in funds to secure the border...

Let’s be very clear here, the only thing that has been done by Congress on the issue of immigration reform for the past two years has been the earmarking of money for border security. This has been done in a bipartisan fashion with the full support of the current administration:

According to the United States Customs and Border Protection since 2004, the number of “boots on the ground” along the Southwest border has increased by nearly 85% to 17,600 Border Patrol Agents today. In Arizona, where the current Governor has very publically asked for more funds, the administration is currently putting a record number of “boots on the ground,” with more than 4,900 Border Patrol Agents, 900 Customs and Border Protection Officers, and 130 Air and Marine Agents.

Interior enforcement has also been stepped up steeply, there has been a record 2,746 worksite enforcement investigations, more than doubling the 1,191 cases initiated in FY 2008.  ICE also issued a record 2,196 notices of inspection to employers, surpassing the prior year's record of 1,444 and more than quadrupling the 503 inspections in 2008. ICE issued 237 final orders - documents requiring employers to cease violating the law and directing them to pay fines - totaling $6,956,026, compared to the 18 issued for $675,209 in FY 2008. The total of $6,956,026 last year represents the most final orders issued since the creation of ICE in 2003.

Perhaps the next time Senator Cornyn wants to politicize the debate on immigration reform, or call the President weak on security, he should look at the facts first.