New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes was with the president in El Paso, Texas, inspiring Latino voters for his 2012 reelection by pushing Congress to hack a "path to citizenship for illegal immigrants." It’s a long shot in a Republican-controlled Congress, on an issue Obama did not press when the Democrats had big majorities in the House and Senate, but those points were buried in her 1,100-word story Wednesday, "In Border City Talk, Obama Urges G.O.P. to Help Overhaul Immigration Law."
President Obama came to this border city on Tuesday to argue that he is doing his part to crack down on illegal immigration, and that Republicans must now join him in overhauling the nation’s immigration laws for the millions of workers already here illegally.
Mr. Obama’s speech at a park within sight of the border with Mexico -- and a billowing 162-foot-by-93-foot Mexican flag -- was heavy with political overtones for 2012 and beyond, given the growing ranks of Latino voters in a number of swing states. He sought to reassure those increasingly frustrated voters of his commitment to liberalizing immigration laws as a moral and economic imperative, and to blame "border security first" Republicans in Congress for his inability to deliver on that promise.
"We have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible," Mr. Obama said, citing increases since the George W. Bush administration in the amount of fencing and aerial surveillance and the number of border agents, National Guard troops, intelligence analysts and deportations of illegal immigrants.
His first stop here was at an inspection facility on the Rio Grande, one of the busiest of the 327 official ports of entry to the United States for cargo, vehicles and even walkers entering from Ciudad Juárez, a sprawling city afflicted by Mexico’s drug wars.
"We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement," he added. "All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time" -- to the point of seeking a moat and alligators, he joked. "That’s politics."
Calmes admitted that "Obama did not push comprehensive immigration legislation in his term’s first two years, when Democrats controlled Congress, and it has virtually no chance of passage now that Republicans have a House majority," while still taking it seriously as a political proposal:
Through the increased activities, including those involving cabinet members, the White House is seeking to show that Mr. Obama is not just checking a political box with an occasional speech or rally, but is actively pressing the issue -- and making sure people know Republicans are standing in the way.
By contrast to the overly credulous Calmes, Jake Tapper and Jason Ryan at ABC News compared Obama’s specific claims about the "border fence" to reality.
"They wanted a fence," the president said. "Well, that fence is now basically complete."
The president is referring to the fact that 649 miles of fencing have been completed out of 652 miles of fencing mandated by Congress. (Out of 1,969 miles of border with Mexico.) That is factually correct, according to a February 2011 study of the border by the Government Accountability Office....More to the point, the border remains quite porous.…GAO’s preliminary analysis of the 873 border miles under operational control in 2010 showed that about 129 miles (15 percent) were classified as 'controlled' and the remaining 85 percent were classified as 'managed.'"