President Obama thinks that by recently signing a new bill spending $600 million to beef up border enforcement he will look tough on illegal aliens. But decisions such as today?s lawsuit by the Justice Department against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to stop his policies regarding illegal aliens shows where the administration?s policies are really headed.
The bill Obama signed, which authorizes the hiring 1,500 new border personnel, the deployment of a pair of unmanned reconnaissance drones, and replacing some bases along the border is valuable, but it hardly undoes what the president has done up to this point. With a recent Rasmussen poll showing that 68 percent of U.S. voters support a plan to continue building a fence on the Mexican border, Obama's change strikes one as a temporary smoke screen.
Up until now the president has worked to cut the number of border agents. 384 border agents were cut last October 1st and in the 2011 fiscal year budget Obama proposed cutting another 180 agents through attrition.
But it isn't just his record of previously reducing the number of border agents. Obama has strongly opposed the use of fences, whether real ones or virtual ones. In March, he halted funding for the physical fence. Spending on "Total, CBP/Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology" (which included the virtual fence) has fallen from $1.05 billion in 2008 at the end of the Bush administration to $800 million in 2010 to $574 million in the coming 2011 budget. That is a $479 million annual cut, something that isn't going to be made up with a pair of unmanned drones.
Unfortunately, Obama appears to wish for continued illegal immigration as his administration has actively tried to stop states from helping enforce current federal laws. Consider the many actions that Obama has taken so far:
-- Just in the last last week two actions by the Obama administration have come to light. A defacto amnesty is being established where deportation cases are being dropped against illegal aliens who have already been arrested. In another case, a non-citizen, who committed several felonies ranging from perjury to voter fraud, was coached by the Department of Homeland Security on how to purge evidence of these actions from his record so that he could still be granted citizenship.
-- The Obama administration has brought several lawsuits to try prevent states from discouraging illegal aliens from entering the country. One is well-known and aims to stop Arizona from requiring police to ask for some type of ID -- no matter what their accent or looks -- of anyone who is "technically ?arrested?" by police. In May, another lawsuit was brought against Arizona over its law revoking state business licenses for companies that regularly violate immigration laws. The Obama administration?s stance is especially odd since business licenses routinely are conditioned on a crime-free record and such rules have always been determined by the states. The administration hopes to make immigration law the single exception of a law allowed to be broken.
-- Consider Obama's recent decision to hire former Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination. But Hurtt has been a long-time strident supporter of "sanctuary city" policies, where some cities simply let illegal aliens live without any worry about the police ever checking their immigration status.
-- The Department of Education and the U.S. Border Patrol apparently boycotted Arizona over the state's new immigration law by canceling planned conferences that were to be held in the state. While the administration denies this, Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told Fox News a month ago: "We have the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education that had planned for meetings, had then canceled those meetings with the reason given that it was because of the immigration law."
-- In July, the Obama administration announced it would start ensuring illegal aliens the same protections as citizens as far as labor laws go. Illegal aliens can complain to Department of Labor about minimum wage or overtime work rule violations without risking deportation. The Department of Labor even makes public service announcements in Spanish: "You work hard, and you have the right to be paid fairly. And it is a serious problem when workers in this country are not being paid every cent they earn. Remember, every worker in America has the right to be paid fairly, whether documented or not. So call us."
Obama's past actions on illegal aliens clearly shows where he stands on the issue. A Politico story last month indicated that Obama is starting to make many changes on a variety of issues to convince voters that he really holds middle of the road views, and the wide news coverage given to the $600 million new spending on border security might convince some voters that Obama and the Democrats really care about curbing illegal immigration and beefing up border security. But many voters already thought that they were getting a much more moderate president when they voted for Obama in 2008. One suspects as soon as the November election has passed, some voters will find that they have been fooled a second time.
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John R. Lott, Jr. is a FoxNews.com contributor. An economist and former chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission, he is also a leading expert on guns. He is the author of several books, including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge? (Regnery Publishing 2013)." Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.