POLITICO reports that Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is accusing the White House of "holding the border hostage."
Kyl summed his story by asserting that the only reason Washington has not secured the nearly 2,000 mile long border with Mexico is that Democrats don’t see the political benefit of providing more security without other reforms.
“That’s why it’s not being done, they frankly don’t want to do it,” he said. “They want to get something in return for doing their duty.”
I think there are a number of reasons to be skeptical about this, but the biggest is that "securing" a 2,000-mile border in the manner immigration restrictionists would like is beyond our physical and technological capabilities as a nation. Furthermore, the amount of resources and manpower devoted to guarding the border at this particular moment is unprecedented. The number of undocumented immigrants coming in has already decreased because of the recession, and the number of deportations is sky-high. So aside from the fact that the administration is already devoting an incredible amount of resources toward the problem, it seems unlikely to me that the White House would promise something everyone knows they can't deliver in a private negotiation where such posturing would be fruitless. I'm not sure what Kyl was offered as part of the negotiation, but I doubt simply "securing the border" was it. If it was, then the White House isn't negotiating in good faith.
What demanding the White House "secure the border" does is it makes the necessary beginning point of any negotiation impossible to achieve, therefore ensuring that the immigration-reform process cannot go forward. As long as there's anyone coming over the border, restrictionists can claim the border hasn't been secured and refuse to negotiate. The debate over immigration and crime has already departed from the realm of facts; there's no reason for the debate over border security to be any different.
-- A. Serwer