President Obama made his pitch for comprehensive immigration reform today with a speech at Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, declaring the border more secure than ever and laying blame for delayed reforms at Republicans’ feet. Meanwhile, the White House released the President’s “Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System.”
Earlier, the President toured the cargo facility at the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry, the largest of four crossings comprising the El Paso Port of Entry. The bridge processes inbound and outbound commercial, private vehicle, bus, and pedestrian traffic; of half a billion inspections conducted annually at 327 ports of entry across the nation, about 10 percent are at El Paso.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee’s National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, issued a statement arguing that the border isn’t as safe and secure as the President made it out to be.
“It seems premature to discuss immigration policies when thousands of criminals continue to cross our border – many of whom enter completely undetected,” Bishop said. “In his remarks today, the President failed to acknowledge the rampant criminal activity occurring on public lands throughout the southern border region. Gaining full operational control of the border should be our number one priority. If your bathtub is overflowing, your first step isn’t to start bailing out water, it’s to turn off the spigot. The same practice should apply to the border.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform had blasted the President yesterday before the speech’s text even was released.
“In his effort to shore-up support from his political base, President Obama is choosing to reignite a divisive debate about amnesty for illegal aliens. At the same time, he is refusing to enforce immigration laws he does not like or finds politically inconvenient,” FAIR President Dan Stein said in a news release. “Sacrificed in the President’s political pandering are the concerns, interests and security of the American people – the true stakeholders of our immigration policy.”
“As the President gears up for his re-election bid, we are seeing a desperate effort on the part of the administration to use immigration as a wedge issue,” he continued. “Any pretense of honoring President-elect Obama’s pledge that, ‘I will listen to you, especially when we disagree,’ or even carrying out the responsibilities of his office on immigration have completely disappeared.”
But Rep. Michael Honda, D-San Jose, said the President “reiterated his commitment to reforming our country’s immigration system through compassionate, comprehensive legislation,” and that he and many of his colleagues in Congress “have been waiting for this moment and stand ready to work with the President on this legislation. The President should help guide Members by laying out a legislative model of what he envisions in the reform process.”
Read the President Obama’s speech in its entirety, after the jump…
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