By Marc RottermanSenior Fellow at the John Locke Foundation/Former Reagan Administration Official

The New York Times reports this morningthat President Obama intends to make immigration "reform" a priority this year. The Times quotes Cecilia Muoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House, calling for "policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system."

Translating through the policy speak, Ms. Munoz is calling for amnesty. But what she is not calling for is any sort of fence, to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. Amnesty + No Fence is a formula for disaster.

According to a recent Rasmussen Reports national survey, most Americans support the continued construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the use of the military, if necessary, in border areas.

Others are are even pushing for the fence to be completely dismantled, ignoring the will of the American people who overwhelmingly rejected the McCain-Kennedy amnesty plan in 2007 and instead supported border security.

During the recent presidential elections, the illegal immigration crisis was downplayed by both major party presidential candidates and virtually ignored by the elite media and pundits in New York and Washington. That was good news for Obama, who supported amnesty in 2007, but it was bad news for John McCain, who never could see that border security was a potential game-changer for him.

Many "Washington political experts" stated that illegal immigration was no longer an issue. But according to a recent Rasmussen Reports national survey, most Americans support the continued construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the use of the military, if necessary, in border areas.

The pro-open border, anti-fence activists are now emboldened because former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, is perceived to be one of them and may try to halt or further delay construction of the much-needed barrier.

The issue of border security is all the more important at a time when Mexico is in crisis. Some 5,700 deaths last year in Mexico were blamed on drug violence--is now the time to make it easier to cross the border?

In addition, America is now plunging into what could be a deep and protracted recession. With unemployment on the rise, American workers need the work, and the United States government can no longer afford the economic costs associated with illegal immigration.

The Obama administration should complete the fence and secure our borders. The legal status of those here illegally should wait--although, of course, all Americans should obey the law, and nobody should be here illegally.

If Obama won't fulfill his sworn duty to defend the nation, and to protect the American people, then he should be held to account, by peaceful political action.

And that calling to account will happen, starting with the 2009 elections, in Virginia and New Jersey.

Marc Rotterman worked on the national campaign of Reagan for President in 1980, served on the presidential transition team in 1980 and worked in the Reagan administration from 1981-1984. He is currently a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.