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May 16, 2006
Two Components Of Bush Border-Security Plan Seem ... Insecure

George Bush tried to reassure conservatives and others concerned about the lack of action on border security that the administration takes those concerns seriously. In his speech, he laid out specifics intended to bolster support for his comprehensive immigration reform policies that would reassure people that the border would get effective attention. The two chief proposals comprised the deployment of National Guard troops to support the Border Patrol and the establishment of a fence in high-traffic areas and a system of barriers and electronic surveillance in others.

However, within hours of the speech, holes began to appear in both elements. The New York Times reports that the governors of the border states that would have to authorize the deployment of the National Guard did not get consulted on the plan ahead of time:

Among the most important voices will be those of the governors of the four states abutting the southern border: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. It falls to them to make the plan for deploying the guard work.

Administration officials said governors would have to ask for the Guard troops, and are free to decline them. And, officials said governors would often have to ask for National Guard troops from fellow governors in nonborder states, who could also say no.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, called the plan a "Band-Aid solution" in a statement Monday night and complained that he had not been fully consulted.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, said the plan fell short. "The president is putting the onus on border governors to work out the details and resolve the problems with this plan," Mr. Richardson said in a statement.

Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, a Democrat, was generally supportive the plan. . Gov. Rick Perry of Texas also voiced support.

Napolitano had already talked about ordering a deployment of the Guard in a similar effort, and Perry has long asked for better enforcement along the Texas frontier. However, one would have expected that the Bush administration would have already worked with the states to agree on a coordinated plan for this proposal before announcing it. The lack of coordination makes the White House look like it grandstanded in yesterday's effort, hoping to pressure Schwarzenegger and Richardson into quiet acquiescence on the plan.

If that was their intent, it will backfire. And if they intended to send ICE head Julie Myers out to bolster confidence in the border fence as a serious proposition, they have even more difficulties on their hands. Radioblogger has the transcript of Myers' interview with Hugh Hewitt, and it isn't pretty. Myers dodged Hugh's efforts to get specifics on the fence, and it appears that she has no idea what Bush actually proposed:

HH: So I'm back to the fencing conversation. If fencing is the best way to stop them at the border, why don't we have a plan laid out for that?

JM: Well, you know, I don't think we think that fencing is the best way to stop them on the border. I think the President's called for...if you build a fence, they build a tunnel. We just saw that today. There was another tunnel destroyed, another, excuse me, another tunnel found over in the San Diego area. So you can't...given the kind of the layout of our land, I believe it's the President's view, it's the border patrol's view, that a fence alone is not enough. We need a layered approach that includes surveillance, personnel, technology. We are working with the military to make sure we have the best technology. And some places, a fence may be very effective, but some places, it's simply not.

HH: Assistant Secretary Myers, correct me if I'm wrong. I think you just walked the administration back from the fence.

JM:, I said consistent with what the border patrol chief's been telling me all along, he's been telling me what he needs, the combination of all these things. You look at the particular location, the particular terrain, and you decide what's most effective. You don't want something people can scale in two minutes and then be in the desert, and then you just have put people on the other side of the fence.

Well, if you build a fence, then you force traffickers to build tunnels -- which are expensive to create and cause enough activity to arouse suspicion. No one has seriously proposed that we build a fence and then forget about patrolling, interdiction, and investigation. The fence allows for more efficient use of those resources and forces violators into extraordinary measures in any attempt to defeat it. It's like saying that you won't build a fence around your property because people can climb over it whenever they want. Of course they can --- but the fence makes it clear that you intend to protect your property from trespassers.

It really seems as if the White House wrote a speech to just pacify their critics instead of actually responding to their concerns. If this is how seriously the administration takes border security, then we need to bring a screeching halt to the immigration reform bill until that attitude changes.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 16, 2006 6:38 AM

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» About That Speech from Hyscience
We absolutely must shut down the border - and if it means militarizing it. so be it, and to hell with Vincente Fox and his 10 billion dollars a year he sucks out of the Mexicans he sends here! [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2006 12:08 AM


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