Feathered Bastard

Barack Obama's $600 Million Border Boondoggle

So President Barack Obama, who still talks a good game about "comprehensive immigration reform," has now signed a supplemental border security package worth $600 million to add 1,000 Border Patrol agents, as well as hundreds of new officers for U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

There's also money for "forward operating bases" along the border, for unmanned drones and for lots of other goodies for federal law enforcement.

The bill received bipartisan support, and passed by a voice vote in the U.S. House, where it was sponsored by North Carolina Democrat David Price, and by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate, where it was sponsored by New York Democrat Charles Schumer, also a big proponent of "comprehensive immigration reform."

Arizona Senator John McCain even signed onto the measure as  a "significant" first step toward the main misleading mantra of our day: "securing the border." Though, McCain wanted to add even more money to this boondoggle.

All the federal agencies concerned in one way or another with immigration enforcement, patrolling the border, and so forth got their hunk of oozing cobbler. The U.S. Department of Justice scored $196 million. CBP? $254 million. ICE cashed in with $80 million. There was even $32 million for Air and Marine interdiction operations.

So everyone got paid, with Democrats in Congress rushing to sign the checks.

Why this colossal jackpot for the feds? Basically, the force behind it is hysteria.

Mainly due to the economy, immigration across the southern border has slowed. The Congressional Research Service recently noted that in fiscal year 2009, apprehensions by the Border Patrol in the southwest border region reached at a 17-year low.

As for the shibboleth that Arizona is awash in crime because of illegal immigration, FBI statistics show that crime is down in the Grand Canyon State. Police chiefs and sheriffs across Arizona's border say they are not seeing an up tick in so-called Mexican-style violence here in Sand Land.

Even the murder of rancher Robert Krentz, whose corpse is now a soap box for the nativist right, was the first of its kind in a decade in the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol.

Nevertheless, politicians from both parties dare not question the mantra mentioned above. So, they've funneled hundreds of millions more into this generally futile effort.

As with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on drugs, and the Cold War of years past, to speak out against this irrational mania of Mexican-bashing that now seems to dominate our political discourse is to be labeled as "soft" on the border, or an "open-borders anarchist," the term neo-Nazi hugging state Senator Russell Pearce likes to use.

Why, in an appearance here in Phoenix this week, ICE honcho John Morton defended the administration, telling reporters it was not "pro-amnesty," but rather was as tough as John McCain's coriaceous complexion.

Such is the McCarthyism of our day, with Democrats running scared down the path of political expediency and reactionary posturing.

So what would happen if all the illegal immigrants in the country disappeared tomorrow, and impoverished Mexicans decided to stay home instead of risking all to cross into the U.S.?

I suppose the right would need to hunt for a new enemy to demonize and pour money into fighting. Perhaps purple people from Pluto, or political "subversives" in-country? 

When undocumented maids and dishwashers become the focus of a $600 million supplemental stimulus, literally any insanity can become reality. Particularly when the Dems are so easily manipulated by the far right.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons