Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The GOP in Vegas

Last night was the GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas, broadcast by CNN.

More than ever the candidates talked about immigration reform.  The fence was the first topic and a couple of people suggested all 2,100 miles of it.

That may be overkill, but others talked about strategic placement, drone monitoring and a rapid response by BP agents.  That's more like it.  Our problem in the past is that executive control of enforcement on the border amounted to enforcing to the desired number.

For example, if you want to "prove" that fewer people are trying to cross, you either TBS (meaning that when you catch someone, instead of doing the paperwork you simply tell them to turn around) or you sit on an "X" (meaning that the BP agents position themselves in one spot, allowing illegals to avoid arrest by using another path).  There are ways to make the numbers say anything you want.

Some candidates talked about military presence ("boots on the ground") to stop the flow.  The obvious follow-up question involves the rules of engagement.  Will they patrol the border?  Will they carry weapons?  We learned that when they "call out the guard," all they are doing is acting as construction workers to put up light poles  and build fences.  A few sit in buildings and monitor screens for movement.

Real military presence would mean true force-multipliers for the BP.  And when you do that, expect backlash from Mexico.  Are these candidates willing to stand tall against Calderon?  That seems like a stupid question, but this president and the last one have been cowards when it comes to Mexican diplomacy.

Some of the GOP candidates were bold enough to talk about mandatory E-Verify.

None talked about deportation, detention beds, withholding benefits and local cooperation programs.

I'm glad they are talking about enforcement, and glad they are talking tough.  But there is still much that is left unsaid.

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