It seems like the Obama administration got the wrong message when it came to the Arizona immigration bill. Instead of pushing back against the state's enforcement-only approach to dealing with illegal immigration, the administration has sent 1,200 National Guard troops to help "secure the border." Maybe this shouldn't be surprising given that progressives at major think tanks like the Center for American Progress have lately joined Republicans in calling for the border to be militarized, but looking at the numbers, you wonder how anyone could think we need more border enforcement. According to a recent Migration Policy Institute report, border-enforcement spending and personnel have surged in the past decade:
We've basically doubled our enforcement capabilities on the border in the last five years -- even as the economic recession has eased the draw of illegal immigrants seeking U.S. jobs. But the problem isn't just that another 1,200 National Guardsmen is overkill: The huge step-up in enforcement is meant to address a problem that doesn't exist. Despite the hysteria over the recent murder of an Arizona rancher, which authorities speculated was committed by an illegal immigrant, drug-related violence from Mexico has yet to have any significant impact in the U.S. So the question is why there's the bipartisan sense of emergency given that Secretary of Homeland Security -- and former Arizona governor -- Janet Napolitano is calling the borders "as safe as it's ever been."
I'd like to find a more complex explanation for the deep irrationality of both parties' approaches to immigration, but they seem driven less by justified concern for safety and fairness than racist paranoia.
-- Gabriel Arana