Despite the recent announcement that the Justice Department is filing suit against Arizona's SB 1070, it appears Obama's promise to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to beef up border security wasn't just a brush-off. Yesterday, the administration asked Congress for $500 million in "emergency" funding for border enforcement, which includes two aerial drones -- the kind at work in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and 1,000 more Border Patrol agents. That's on top of the 1,200 National Guardsmen Obama sent to the area earlier last month. And on top of the 10,000 new Border Patrol agents that have been hired since 2004.
In all, that's about 10 Border Patrol agents for every mile of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The thing is, as Adam Serwer and I have noted repeatedly, there's no border-security emergency. The hysteria about border violence -- fueled in particular by the murder of a single Arizona rancher by what police suspected was an undocumented immigrant (it turns out, after all, the prime suspect is a citizen) -- persists despite the fact that crime along the border is low and going down, immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native-born citizens, and illegal immigration is down because of the economic downturn.
What's especially upsetting is that so many on the left have climbed on the enforcement wagon in the hope of swaying Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented. In March, the Center for American Progress called for just the type of military drones Obama has now dispatched to the border. But progressives should realize: If having ten border patrol agents per mile doesn't count as "securing the border" to Republicans, who maintain that we still haven't done so, nothing probably will. Progressives should push to bring the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the country out of the shadows -- and perhaps give up on trying to appease Republicans by militarizing the border.
-- Gabriel Arana